Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 253–276 | Cite as

Risk Perception in Gambling: A Systematic Review

  • Michael Spurrier
  • Alexander Blaszczynski
Review Paper


Perception of the consequences of risk affects motivation and behaviour. In gambling, distorted expectations and preferences towards outcomes are associated with significant social and clinical harms. A systematic review was conducted to examine the relationship between gambling risk perception and behaviour. Sixteen studies met inclusion criteria. Studies provided evidence that disordered gamblers hold both more optimistic overall perceptions of risk, and a mixture of more positive and more negative specific outcome expectations. Preliminary evidence suggests a range of contextual and individual differences moderate risk perception affecting decision-making. Disordered gamblers appear to sustain motivation to gamble, despite more negative expectations and experiences, via cognitive processes that result in preferential emphasis on positive over negative outcomes. Given potential differences in the perception of risk between various categories of gamblers, clinicians should take into account how gamblers in treatment view gambling as a risky behaviour. Improving the accuracy of such perceptions may reduce the propensity for risk-taking behaviours.


Gambling Pathological Gambling Harm Risk perception Cognition Decision making 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology (A18)The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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