The Desire to Gamble: The Influence of Outcomes on the Priming Effects of a Gambling Episode
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- Young, M.M., Wohl, M.J.A., Matheson, K. et al. J Gambl Stud (2008) 24: 275. doi:10.1007/s10899-008-9093-9
The influence of gambling outcomes on the efficacy of a short gambling episode to prime motivation to continue gambling was determined in two experiments in which desire to gamble was evaluated while participants played a slot machine located in a virtual reality casino. In experiment 1, 38 high-risk [>3 Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI)] [Ferris and Wynne (The Canadian problem gambling index: final report, 2001)] and 36 non-problem gamblers (0 PGSI) either won or lost a modest amount. Among high-risk gamblers, winning resulted in a greater increase in the desire to continue gambling than did losing. In experiment 2, 39 high-risk, 33 low-risk (0 < PGSI < 3), and 31 non-problem gamblers experienced either a single large win or a series of small wins (equivalent monetary gain). Participants were permitted to continue playing as long as they wanted (all subsequent spins being losses) thus permitting evaluation of persistence (resistance to extinction). Throughout, desire to gamble was assessed using a single item measure. High-risk gamblers who experienced a large win reported significantly greater desire to gamble upon voluntary cessation than those who experienced a series of small wins. It seems that the priming effects of a short gambling episode are contingent on the pattern of outcomes experienced by the gambler. The data were related to motivational factors associated with gambling, gambling persistence, and chasing losses.