Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 429–447 | Cite as

Reduced Risk-Taking After Prior Losses in Pathological Gamblers Under Treatment and Healthy Control Group but not in Problem Gamblers

  • Nicolao Bonini
  • Alessandro Grecucci
  • Manuel Nicolè
  • Lucia Savadori
Original Paper


A group of pathological gamblers and a group of problem gamblers (i.e., gamblers at risk of becoming pathological) were compared to healthy controls on their risk-taking propensity after prior losses. Each participant played both the Balloon Analogue Risk Taking task (BART) and a modified version of the same task, where individuals face five repeated predetermined early losses at the onset of the game. No significant difference in risk-taking was found between groups on the standard BART task, while significant differences emerged when comparing behaviors in the two tasks: both pathological gamblers and controls reduced their risk-taking tendency after prior losses in the modified BART compared to the standard BART, whereas problem gamblers showed no reduction in risk-taking after prior losses. We interpret these results as a sign of a reduced sensitivity to negative feedback in problem gamblers which might contribute to explain their loss-chasing tendency.


Risk-taking Prior losses Pathological gambling Loss-chasing Negative feedback Resilience 



This study was funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento (PAT) (“Pre.GIO.—Monitoraggio e prevenzione del gioco d’azzardo patologico in Trentino”, Atto esecutivo 2013, Area di ricerca 1—Rapporti sulla sicurezza in Trentino—Linea di attività 2). This experiment (Nicolao Bonini, P.I.) was part of that more extensive research project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Nicolao Bonini declares that he has no conflict of interest. Alessandro Grecucci declares that he has no conflict of interest. Manuel Nicolè declares that he has no conflict of interest. Lucia Savadori declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Cognitive SciencesUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly

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