On finding the C in CBT: The challenges of applying gambling-related cognitive approaches to video-gaming

Abstract

Many similarities have been drawn between the activities of gambling and video-gaming. Both are repetitive activities with intermittent reinforcement, decision-making opportunities, and elements of risk-taking. As a result, it might be tempting to believe that cognitive strategies that are used to treat problem gambling might also be applied to problematic video gaming. In this paper, we argue that many cognitive approaches to gambling that typically involve a focus on erroneous beliefs about probabilities and randomness are not readily applicable to video gaming. Instead, we encourage a focus on other clusters of cognitions that relate to: (a) the salience and over-valuing of gaming rewards, experiences, and identities, (b) maladaptive and inflexible rules about behaviour, (c) the use of video-gaming to maintain self-esteem, and (d) video-gaming for social status and recognition. This theoretical discussion is advanced as a starting point for the development of more refined cognitive treatment approaches for problematic video gaming.

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