Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 329–342 | Cite as

Social Density of Gambling and Its Association with Gambling Problems: An Initial Investigation

  • Erica E. Fortune
  • James MacKillop
  • Joshua D. Miller
  • W. Keith Campbell
  • Allan D. Clifton
  • Adam S. Goodie
Original Paper


The role of social factors in pathological gambling has received relatively little systematic research. The goal of the current study was to examine the relationship between a target individual’s gambling behavior and the gambling behavior among that individual’s parents, siblings and five closest friends. The specific aims were, first, to apply a novel brief assessment to study the social density of factors relating to pathological gambling; second, to replicate previously observed findings involving the social aggregation of alcohol and tobacco use; and third, to examine social density findings among the three domains. Participants were 128 frequent gamblers from the Athens, Georgia area, 79.7 % male with a mean age of 34.2 (SD = 11.7). Participants were assessed using the Diagnostic Interview for Gambling Severity for gambling severity, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test for alcohol abuse, the Fagerstrom Test of Nicotine Dependence for tobacco use, and the novel Brief Social Density of Gambling, Alcohol, and Tobacco Assessment. Significant relationships were observed between participants’ and friends’ activity within all domains: gambling (ps = .001), alcohol use (p < .001) and tobacco use (p < .001). Relationships with friends’ activity across domains were less strong. Distinct patterns of associations with parents and siblings were not observed. Thus, social aggregation was observed across the three domains of potentially addictive behaviors, generally with specificity within domains and with friends, not biological relatives. Methodological considerations and potential applications of these findings are discussed.


Gambling Pathological gambling Social density Tobacco Alcohol 



This research was partially support by grants from the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders (ASG, JDM, WKC, JM) and the National Institutes of Health (K23 AA016936 - JM).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica E. Fortune
    • 1
  • James MacKillop
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joshua D. Miller
    • 1
  • W. Keith Campbell
    • 1
  • Allan D. Clifton
    • 3
  • Adam S. Goodie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Center for Alcohol and Addiction StudiesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyVassar CollegePoughkeepsieUSA

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