, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 31-42

The cognitive psychology of gambling

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A number of recent studies have shown there may be a strong cognitive bias in explaining persistent gambling. Theories that have been put forward include the illusion of control, “cognitive regret,” biased evaluations and the “psychology of the near miss.” Two exploratory studies examining the acquisition, development and maintenance of gambling behaviour involving adolescent fruit machine gamblers were carried out. Those factors which directly relate to the cognitive biases (notably erroneous beliefs about skill) during gambling activity are discussed with reference to the above cognitive influences.

The author would like to thank the United Kingdom Economic and Social Research Council for funding this work through a research studentship. The author would also like to thank S.E.G. Lea for his invaluable advice during the preparation of this manuscript.
Parts of this paper were presented at The Cognitive Psychology Section Conference, British Psychological Society, Cambridge, England, September, 1988.