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Psychological predictors of gambling behaviour: the role of motivations, cognitive distortions and impulsivity in a sample of male gamblers

Abstract : Introduction: While the practice of gambling can be seen as a personal choice, it can be influenced by factors favoring it or not such as cognitive distortions. Moreover, gambling motives and gambler’s psychological state seem to be involved into the development and maintenance of cognitive distortions. In addition, anxiety and depression can also affect decision-making of gamblers. In summary, motivations, cognitions, emotions, impulsivity and gambling practice seem to be closely link. This cross-sectional study aimed to explain gambling severity from gambling motives, cognitive distortions, emotional states and impulsivity traits in male gamblers. Method: Participants (N=293 regular male gamblers) were recruited both in general population in online gambling forums (Bet Clever and Club Poker) and in clinical population (CSAPA of Tours, France). Data included sociodemographic characteristics, the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), the Gambling Motives Questionnaire-Financial (GMQ-F), the Gambling-Related Cognition Scale (GRCS), the Hospital Anxiety-Depressive scale (HAD) and the impulsive behavior scale (UPPS-P). Results: Univariate analyses were carried out to determine whether the components assessed in this study could predict problem gambling. Among cognitive distortions, the inability to stop gambling appears to be a strong predictor of gambling severity (30.6%), followed by illusion of control (13.2%) (p<0.001). Anxiety-depressive, symptomatology accounts for 20.7% of gambling severity (p<0.001). However, depressive symptomatology seems to be more involved in the development of problem gambling than anxiety symptomatology (respectively 18.8% and 12.8%; p<0.001). Among gambling motives, the main predictors of gambling severity are financial motives (15.4%) and coping motives (15.1%) (p<0.001). Finally, about impulsivity traits, gambling severity was mainly explained by negative urgency (14.4%; p<0.001). Although the others subscales assessed have a significant influence on gambling severity, their prediction rates are less than 10%. Discussion/Conclusion: Inability to stop gambling and negative urgency (loss of control due to a strong negative emotional experience) are part of diagnostic criteria of pathological gambling in the 5th DSM; explaining their involvement in gambling severity. Moreover, gamblers with emotional troubles (anxiety or depression) seem more likely to develop problem gambling. This can be explained by the fact that gambling can be considered as a way to escape negative emotions (coping motive). To assess gambling motives, cognitive distortions, personality traits and psychological state of gamblers would help to better understand mechanisms underlying gambling practice and would help to target clinical interventions.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, July 7, 2021 - 11:28:12 AM
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Isabelle Varescon, Sasha Mathieu, Paul Brunault, Servane Barrault. Psychological predictors of gambling behaviour: the role of motivations, cognitive distortions and impulsivity in a sample of male gamblers. French Journal of Psychiatry, 2017, 20 (06), ⟨10.4172/2378-5756-C1-027⟩. ⟨hal-03280314⟩



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