Implicit gambling attitudes in problem gamblers: Positive but not negative implicit associations

Abstract

Background and objectives: Implicit attitudes (associations) are involved in the generation of substance use behaviors. However, little is known about the role of this automatic cognitive processing in deregulated behaviors without substance use, such as abnormal gambling. This study examined whether problem gamblers exhibit both positive and negative implicit attitudes toward gambling-related stimuli. Methods: Twenty-five problem gamblers and 25 control participants performed two unipolar (pleasant; unpleasant) Single-Target Implicit Association Tasks (unipolar ST-IAT), in which gambling pictures were associated with either pleasant (or unpleasant for the negative unipolar ST-IAT) or neutral words. Explicit attitudes toward gambling were also recorded. Results: We found in problem gamblers: (i) both positive implicit and explicit attitudes toward gambling; (ii) no negative implicit gambling association; (iii) that only positive explicit attitudes positively correlated with the gambling severity score. Limitations: (i) the use of only one type of reaction time task; (ii) the use of both words and pictures in a same IAT; (iii) problem gamblers have been compared to non-gamblers instead of being contrasted with healthy non-problem gamblers. Conclusions: Whereas our gamblers experienced deleterious effects related to gambling, implicit attitude toward gambling remained positive, thus hampering attempts to quit gambling. Possible clinical interventions targeting implicit cognition in problem gamblers were discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

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