, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 83-97

The Appropriateness of Using Laboratories and Student Participants in Gambling Research

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Abstract

Increased recognition of the risks associated with gambling has resulted in a greater focus on empirical research to increase the understanding of gambling and design appropriate response strategies. Laboratory studies are a popular mode of research due to their relative ease and lower costs compared to field research; however such studies may be limited in the extent to which results can be generalized to real gambling scenarios. The current research investigated the validity of a laboratory research study using 127 university students (male = 97, mean age = 20.4) investigating the impact of harm-minimisation measures by replicating the study in gambling venues with 124 club patrons (male = 89, mean age = 44.1). The main results and effects of both studies were in the same direction, but fewer significant results were found in the venue study. Venue participants provided much less information in response to survey questions than student participants and were less likely to return follow-up questionnaires. It was concluded that both laboratory and field studies provide valuable contributions to the field, but caution should be taken in interpreting results, and where possible both methodologies should be used to verify conclusions.