The role of memory associations in excessive and problem gambling


Outcome expectancies (OEs), or beliefs about the consequences of engaging in a particular behaviour, are important predictors of addictive behaviours. In Study 1 of the present work, we assessed whether memory associations between gambling and positive outcomes are related to excessive and problem gambling. The Gambling Behaviour Outcome Association Task (G-BOAT) was administered to a sample of 96 community-recruited gamblers. On the G-BOAT, participants responded to a list of positive outcome phrases with the first two behaviours that came to mind. Those with more problematic gambling (as measured on the Problem Gambling Severity Index) and greater gambling involvement (as measured by time and money spent gambling on the Gambling Timeline Followback) responded to positive outcome phrases on the G-BOAT with more gambling-related responses. In Study 2, we administered G-BOAT to a community-recruited sample of 61 gamblers, who also completed a computerized reaction time measure of implicit gambling OEs, an explicit self-report measure of gambling OEs, and a measure of gambling frequency. Consistent with Strack and Deutch’s (2004) reflective-impulsive model, memory associations on the G-BOAT and positive OE scores on the explicit Gambling Expectancy Questionnaire each predicted unique variance in frequency of gambling behaviour. These studies are among the first to demonstrate the important role of memory associations in excessive and problem gambling.

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