The impact of precommitment on risk-taking while gambling: A preliminary study


Background and aims:
Precommitment refers to the ability to prospectively restrict the access to temptations. This study examined whether risk-taking during gambling is decreased when an individual has the opportunity to precomit to his forthcoming bet. Methods Sixty individuals participated in a gambling task that consisted of direct choice (simply chose one monetary option among four available ones, ranging from low-risk to high-risk options) or precommitment trials (before choosing an amount, participants had the opportunity to make a binding choice that made high-risk options unavailable).

We found that participants utilized the precommitment option, such that risk-taking was decreased on precommitment trials compared to direct choices. Within the precommitment trials, there was no significant difference in risk-taking following decisions to restrict versus non-restrict.

These findings suggest that the opportunity to precommit may be sufficient to reduce the attractiveness of risk.

Present results might be exploited to create interventions aiming at enhancing one’s ability to anticipate self-control failures while gambling.

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