Research led by the University of Cambridge has found a link between impulsivity and flawed reasoning (such as believing in superstitious rituals and luck) in problem gamblers.
Studying compulsive gamblers who were seeking treatment at the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the researchers found that those gamblers with higher levels of impulsivity were much more susceptible to errors in reasoning associated with gambling, such as superstitious rituals (e.g. carrying a lucky charm) and explaining away recent losses (e.g. on bad luck or 'cold' machines).
The findings were published today, 29 June, in the journal Psychological Medicine. The research, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), took place at the National Problem Gambling Clinic which opened in 2008 and is the only NHS funded service for disordered gambling in the UK.
While gambling is a popular form of entertainment for many people, problem (or 'pathological') gambling is a recognised psychiatric diagnosis affecting around 1% of the UK population. Symptoms include a loss of control over gambling, withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, and various negative consequences, including gambling debts and family difficulties.
Dr Luke Clark, from the University of Cambridge's Department of Experimental Psychiatry, said: "The link between impulsivity and gambling beliefs suggests to us that high impulsivity can predispose a range of more complex distortions such as superstitions - that gamblers often experience. Our research helps fuse these two likely underlying causes of problem gambling, shedding light on why some people are prone to becoming pathological gamblers."
The researchers, from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, compared 30 gamblers seeking treatment at the clinic with 30 non-gamblers from the general population.
The researchers asked the participants a series of financial questions involving trade
|Contact: Genevieve Maul|
University of Cambridge