Casual gamblers and gamblers with addiction issues think differently when they gamble, but all gamblers appear to hold unrealistic beliefs when they gamble. “Since erroneous beliefs tend to be directly related to risky gambling behavior, helping individuals maintain a rational perspective during gambling may protect them from taking unreasonable risks and developing a gambling problem,” said Bianca F. Jardin of the Department of Psychology at the University of Albany, State University of New York. “Based on this reasoning, several policymakers around the world have begun to implement harm minimization strategies, such as displaying warnings in the form of pop-up messages on gambling machines.” The messages are designed to make the gambler aware of the risks associated with their behavior and also to dispel any false beliefs the gambler may hold. However, the effects of these warnings have not been researched adequately.
In order to provide evidence of the efficacy of such methods, Jardin and her colleagues enrolled 88 frequent gamblers in an experiment that provided them with accurate, inaccurate or neutral messages while they gambled. The participants who served as a control were provided no messages. The results revealed that the gamblers who received the accurate messages during the experiment actually stopped gambling before they ran out of money and also placed smaller bets than the other participants. “Contrary to assumptions, messages mimicking gamblers’ irrational beliefs about their ability to improve their chances of winning did not result in riskier behavior because the participants in this condition did not differ from those in the other conditions,” said Jardin.
“When combined with the results of other studies, the present findings suggest that inserting warning messages into periods of play can effectively alter the level of risky behavior for gamblers across the spectrum, from low- to high-frequency to problem and pathological gamblers.” Jardin added, “Beyond message content, future efforts should also focus on systematically modifying messages in terms of other dimensions (e.g., interactive vs. static messages) in order to identify a gold standard for presenting preventive information in the most effective way.”
Jardin, B. F., & Wulfert, E. (2011, December 19). The Use of Messages in Altering Risky Gambling Behavior in Experienced Gamblers. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026202
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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