Pause for Thought: Response Perseveration and Personality in Gambling

Abstract

In a sample of normal volunteers, response perseveration (RP) on a computerised gambling task, the card perseveration task, was examined under two conditions: No pause (Standard task) and a 5-s pause (Pause task) following feedback from previous bet. Behavioural outcomes comprised number of cards played (and cash won/lost) and latency of response. Individual differences in these outcomes were conceptualised in terms of the reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality. Results showed that, on the Standard task only, sub-scales of the Carver and White (J Pers Social Psychol 67:319–333, 1994) Behavioural Approach System scale positively correlated with number of cards played and amount of money lost (indicative of impaired RP), but these associations were abolished with the imposition of a 5-s pause between feedback and the opportunity to make the next bet—this pause also had an overall main effect of improving RP and reducing losses. As related research shows that such a pause normalises the RP deficit seen in pathological gamblers, these findings hold potentially valuable implications for informing practice in the prevention and treatment of pathological gambling, and point to the role played by individual differences in approach motivation.

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Correspondence to Philip J. Corr.

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Corr, P.J., Thompson, S.J. Pause for Thought: Response Perseveration and Personality in Gambling. J Gambl Stud 30, 889–900 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-013-9395-4

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Keywords

  • Response perseveration
  • Pause
  • Personality
  • Behavioural Approach System
  • Gambling
  • Internet
  • Reinforcement sensitivity theory