Gambling goals predict chasing behavior during slot machine play


The purpose of this study was to test the effect of gambling goals (i.e., gambling achievement-orientation) on chasing behavior (i.e., decision to chase, chasing spins) over and above known antecedents (e.g., problem gambling severity, winning money motivations, approach/avoidance motivation).

Young adult gamblers (N = 121) were provided $20 and invited to use those funds on a slot machine situated in an immersive virtual reality casino. Unbeknownst to participants, outcomes were manipulated such that a nominal amount of money was either won or lost (depending on experimental condition) after 30 spins. Before the 31st spin, participants were asked if they wished to continue play. If they agreed, all successive spin outcomes were a loss. This permitted an assessment of what factors influence a player's: (1) decision to chase and (2) the number of chasing spins played in the face of loss.

Almost all participants (n = 95, 78.5%) screened positive for problem gambling symptoms. The majority of gamblers decided to chase (n = 67, 55.4%). In bivariate analyses, higher gambling goal and problem gambling severity scores (but not approach/avoidance nor ‘loss/win’ condition) were positively related to both forms of chasing. Gamblers ‘motivated to win money’ were more likely to decide to chase. In multivariate analyses, higher gambling goals best accounted for both forms of chasing independent of known antecedents.

This study provides the first evidence that gambling goals can influence chasing. Implications for shaping responsible gambling approaches to be more consistent with motivations for play are discussed.

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