Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 179–193 | Cite as

It’s Not What You Know, but How You Use It: Statistical Knowledge and Adolescent Problem Gambling

  • Paul DelfabbroEmail author
  • Julie Lahn
  • Peter Grabosky


This paper examined the nature of irrational gambling-related cognitions in a sample of 926 adolescents (mean age = 14.5 years) sampled from Australian schools. Students were differentiated according to gambling status and administered a series of items that assessed their understanding of objective odds, the nature of randomness, the role of skill in gambling, and the perceived profitability of gambling. The results confirmed previous findings that problem gamblers tend to be more irrational in their perceptions, as indicated by stronger beliefs in the role of skilful play in chance activities, and that gambling is a potentially profitable activity. However, counter intuitively, problem gamblers did not appear to have any poorer understanding of objective probabilities. These results are discussed in terms of Sevigny and Ladouceur’s (2004) concept of cognitive switching as well as psychological research concerning the role of emotional and motivational factors in the development of an illusion of control. The implications of these findings for gambling education programs are discussed.


Adolescents Problem gambling Irrational Cognitions 



This project was supported by ARC Linkage Grant LP0348759. The authors are grateful to the support provided by the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, ACT Department of Education and Training, Catholic Education Office and Association of Independent Schools.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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