Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 83–97 | Cite as

The Appropriateness of Using Laboratories and Student Participants in Gambling Research

  • Sally Gainsbury
  • Alex Blaszczynski
Original Paper


Increased recognition of the risks associated with gambling has resulted in a greater focus on empirical research to increase the understanding of gambling and design appropriate response strategies. Laboratory studies are a popular mode of research due to their relative ease and lower costs compared to field research; however such studies may be limited in the extent to which results can be generalized to real gambling scenarios. The current research investigated the validity of a laboratory research study using 127 university students (male = 97, mean age = 20.4) investigating the impact of harm-minimisation measures by replicating the study in gambling venues with 124 club patrons (male = 89, mean age = 44.1). The main results and effects of both studies were in the same direction, but fewer significant results were found in the venue study. Venue participants provided much less information in response to survey questions than student participants and were less likely to return follow-up questionnaires. It was concluded that both laboratory and field studies provide valuable contributions to the field, but caution should be taken in interpreting results, and where possible both methodologies should be used to verify conclusions.


Research methodology Students Gambling Laboratory studies Field studies Young adults 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Menzies Foundation for supporting the first author’s PhD, of which this study is a part as well as the Gaming Technologies Association for their support of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Gambling Education and ResearchSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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