Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 769–782 | Cite as

Fun Seeking and Reward Responsiveness Moderate the Effect of the Behavioural Inhibition System on Coping-Motivated Problem Gambling

  • Matthew T. KeoughEmail author
  • Jeffrey D. Wardell
  • Christian S. Hendershot
  • R. Michael Bagby
  • Lena C. Quilty
Original Paper


Gray’s Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) predicts that the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) may relate to coping-motivated problem gambling, given its central role in anxiety. Studies examining the BIS-problem gambling association, however, are mixed. The revised RST posits that the Behavioral Approach System (BAS) may moderate the effect of the BIS on coping-motivated problem gambling. A concurrently strong BAS may highlight the negatively reinforcing effects of gambling, which may strengthen coping motives and increase gambling-related harms. We examined these interactive effects to clarify the moderators and mediators of the negative reinforcement pathway to problem gambling. Data came from a larger investigation of problem gambling among individuals with mood disorders. All participants (N = 275) met criteria for a lifetime depressive or bipolar disorder. During a two-day assessment, participants completed a diagnostic assessment and self-reports. Mediated moderation path analysis showed positive indirect effects from the BIS to problem gambling via coping motives at high, but not at low, levels of BAS-Reward Responsiveness and BAS-Fun Seeking. Enhancement motives were also found to mediate the associations of BAS-Fun Seeking and BAS-Drive with problem gambling. Reward Responsiveness and Fun Seeking facets of the BAS may strengthen coping gambling motives within the mood disorders.


Behavioral inhibition system Behavioral approach system Problem gambling Motives Mood disorders 



The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Data collection and preparation of this manuscript was supported by Grant #2662 from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre. Dr. Bagby was the PI on this Grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Research Involving Human Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. All participants provided informed consent before participation in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew T. Keough
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jeffrey D. Wardell
    • 1
  • Christian S. Hendershot
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • R. Michael Bagby
    • 3
  • Lena C. Quilty
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Campbell Family Mental Health Research InstituteCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Departments of Psychology and PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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