Nonmonetary Decision-Making Indices Discriminate Between Different Behavioral Components of Gambling
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- Navas, J.F., Torres, A., Vilar, R. et al. J Gambl Stud (2015) 31: 1545. doi:10.1007/s10899-014-9482-1
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Recent research has proposed that altered reward and punishment sensitivity, heightened impulsivity, and faulty dynamic decision-making are at the core of disordered gambling. However, each of these traits and cognitive aspects dimensionally vary in the normal population, such that the link between individual differences in these dimensions and gambling use can be ultimately informative to explain disordered gambling. The main aim of the present study was to investigate the contribution of such decision-making-related indices to gambling use parameters in a community sample of college students. Assessment included punishment and reward sensitivity (as measured by the shortened Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire), impulsivity (as measured by the UPPS-P model and a motor inhibition Go/No-go task), and dynamic decision-making [as measured by the probabilistic reversal learning task (PRLT)]. A structured interview was conducted to explore quantitative aspects of the participants gambling habits (gambling presence, gambling frequency, and average amount of money spent in gambling per unit of time). Our results showed the existence of a decision-making profile of gambling, as it naturally occurs in college students, in which sensation seeking is directly and specifically related to gambling presence (gambling, or not gambling at all), punishment sensitivity is inversely related to gambling frequency, and inflexibility in the PRLT specifically predicts the losses accrued because of gambling. These results are compatible with the idea that sensation seeking and punishment insensitivity could increase exposure to gambling activities, whereas reversal learning inflexibility, in people who already gamble, could boost the risk to accumulate losses.