Is boredom associated with problem gambling behaviour? It depends on what you mean by ‘boredom’

Abstract

The propensity to experience boredom is believed to be a predisposing factor for problem gambling; yet, a full understanding of this association is currently lacking. Some claim that gambling alleviates the under-arousal associated with boredom; others claim that gambling helps individuals avoid the negative affect associated with boredom. The purpose of the present study was to clarify this relationship. Two hundred and two undergraduate students completed measures of gambling, boredom, and sensitivity to punishment and reward. Results suggest individuals gamble in order to increase arousal, rather than to avoid the negative affect associated with boredom. Moreover, results also suggest that boredom is distinctly related to gambling problems, above and beyond its overlap with sensitivity to reward. The propensity to experience boredom is believed to be a predisposing factor for problem gambling; yet, a full understanding of this association is currently lacking. Some claim that gambling alleviates the under-arousal associated with boredom; others claim that gambling helps individuals avoid the negative affect associated with boredom. The purpose of the present study was to clarify this relationship. Two hundred and two undergraduate students completed measures of gambling, boredom, and sensitivity to punishment and reward. Results suggest individuals gamble in order to increase arousal, rather than to avoid the negative affect associated with boredom. Moreover, results also suggest that boredom is distinctly related to gambling problems, above and beyond its overlap with sensitivity to reward.

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