, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 1-21

The Stubborn Logic of Regular Gamblers: Obstacles and Dilemmas in Cognitive Gambling Research

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Cognitive studies into gambling behaviour have shown that many gamblers misinterpret the odds of gambling activities, hold false beliefs about skill and luck, and over-estimate their subjective chances of success. Accordingly, providing accurate information about gambling in venues, or on slot-machines, would appear to be a sensible way to enhance the ‘safety’ of gambling products. Unfortunately, such ideas for educating gamblers may be difficult to implement in practice because of limitations and conceptual dilemmas in the cognitive literature. Irrational beliefs about gambling may be difficult to falsify, are often highly idiosyncratic and context-bound, and may stem more from the selective misuse of information than from a lack of knowledge about gambling activities. Drawing evidence from recent research into gambling-related cognitions, this paper examines the key elements of irrational-belief systems, and how this work might usefully inform the design of future consumer information initiatives.