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That impulsive, moody preschooler may grow up to be a problem gambler
Date:4/23/2012

Give me the child at 3 and I will give you the adult compulsive gambler. That is the striking finding of a new study in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

Based on tests of over 900 individuals beginning in toddlerhood, the study found that "people who were rated at age three as being more restless, inattentive, oppositional, and moody than other three-year old children were twice as likely to grow up to have problems with gambling as adults three decades later," says psychologist Wendy S. Slutske of University of Missouri, who conducted the study with Terrie E. Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi, both of Duke University and University College/London; and Richie Poulton of University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand.

As the first study to establish a causal link between a so-called "under-controlled" temperament in early childhood and later compulsive gambling, said Slutske, it answers a crucial question: "How early can we tell a person is at increased risk?"

The study looked at individuals from the Dunedin (New Zealand) Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a longitudinal study of one birth cohort. Based on behaviors observed during a 90-minute assessment, 1,037 three-year-olds were categorized as having one of five temperaments: under-controlled, inhibited, confident, reserved, or well adjusted. Those children who were categorized as having an under-controlled temperament were more restless, impulsive, and negative and were less able to regulate their emotions.

At ages 21 and 36, 939 of the study participants answered questions about gambling behavior. At 21, 86 percent of the respondents had gambled, but only 13 percent in a "disordered" waydefined by such problems as a preoccupation with gambling; a need to wager more and more to get the same enjoyment; getting into financial, personal, or work-related difficulties because of gambling; and difficulty in cut
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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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