It’s not what you know, but how you use it: Statistical knowledge and adolescent problem gambling


This paper examined the nature of irrational gambling-related cognitions in a sample of 926 adolescents (mean age = 14.5 years) sampled from Australian schools. Students were differentiated according to gambling status and administered a series of items that assessed their understanding of objective odds, the nature of randomness, the role of skill in gambling, and the perceived profitability of gambling. The results confirmed previous findings that problem gamblers tend to be more irrational in their perceptions, as indicated by stronger beliefs in the role of skilful play in chance activities, and that gambling is a potentially profitable activity. However, counter intuitively, problem gamblers did not appear to have any poorer understanding of objective probabilities. These results are discussed in terms of Sevigny and Ladouceur's (2004) concept of cognitive switching as well as psychological research concerning the role of emotional and motivational factors in the development of an illusion of control. The implications of these findings for gambling education programs are discussed.

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