Cue-Reactive Rationality, Visual Imagery and Volitional Control Predict Cue-Reactive Urge to Gamble in Poker-Machine Gamblers
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- Clark, G.I., Rock, A.J., McKeith, C.F.A. et al. J Gambl Stud (2016). doi:10.1007/s10899-016-9650-6
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Poker-machine gamblers have been demonstrated to report increases in the urge to gamble following exposure to salient gambling cues. However, the processes which contribute to this urge to gamble remain to be understood. The present study aimed to investigate whether changes in the conscious experience of visual imagery, rationality and volitional control (over one’s thoughts, images and attention) predicted changes in the urge to gamble following exposure to a gambling cue. Thirty-one regular poker-machine gamblers who reported at least low levels of problem gambling on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), were recruited to complete an online cue-reactivity experiment. Participants completed the PGSI, the visual imagery, rationality and volitional control subscales of the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI), and a visual analogue scale (VAS) assessing urge to gamble. Participants completed the PCI subscales and VAS at baseline, following a neutral video cue and following a gambling video cue. Urge to gamble was found to significantly increase from neutral cue to gambling cue (while controlling for baseline urge) and this increase was predicted by PGSI score. After accounting for the effects of problem-gambling severity, cue-reactive visual imagery, rationality and volitional control significantly improved the prediction of cue-reactive urge to gamble. The small sample size and limited participant characteristic data restricts the generalizability of the findings. Nevertheless, this is the first study to demonstrate that changes in the subjective experience of visual imagery, volitional control and rationality predict changes in the urge to gamble from neutral to gambling cue. The results suggest that visual imagery, rationality and volitional control may play an important role in the experience of the urge to gamble in poker-machine gamblers.