Knowledge and beliefs about gambling in Australian secondary school students and their implications for education strategies

Abstract

This study investigated the nature of gambling-related knowledge and beliefs in a survey study of 2,669 students aged 13-17 years in South Australia. Students were classified as pathological gamblers, at risk, or not at risk based upon the DSM-IV-J, and their responses to questions relating to objective odds, probabilities, and common misperceptions were compared. The study confirmed previous studies which have shown that pathological gamblers are more susceptible to erroneous beliefs concerning randomness and chance, but do not differ in terms of their knowledge of objective odds. These findings were discussed in terms of Ladouceur's notion of "cognitive switching" and the distinction drawn between "hot" and "cold" cognitions in clinical outcome studies. The implications for school-based education programs are examined with attention given to the potential value of role-playing and simulations in encouraging student reflection and self-awareness.

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