Reward preferences of pathological gamblers under conditions of uncertainty: An experimental study

Abstract

Among many personality traits, impulsivity represents one of the most important traits associated with pathological gambling. Empirical research has highlighted the multidimensional nature of impulsivity, which includes different heterogeneous traits and behavioral tendencies. The present study experimentally examined reward preferences of pathological gamblers under conditions of uncertainty using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). Furthermore it also examined the relationship between impulsivity, time perspective, inability to tolerate delay in gratification, and risk-taking. The present study is the first to simultaneously examine all these variables simultaneously in a sample of pathological gamblers (n = 54) and healthy controls (n = 54) from Italy. All participants participated in the BART and were also administered Italian versions of the South Oaks Gambling Screen, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, the Consideration of Future Consequences, and the Monetary Choice Questionnaire. Analyses revealed that compared to HCs, PGs were more risk prone on the BART, and reported elevated levels of impulsivity, steeper discounting rates and a shorter time perspective. All the measures correlated with the gambling severity and strong correlations between the BIS, CFC-14 and BART were observed. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that impulsivity and risk-taking were strong predictors of pathological gambling.

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