Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 807–822 | Cite as

Psychological Vulnerability and Problem Gambling: The Mediational Role of Cognitive Distortions

  • David LévesqueEmail author
  • Serge Sévigny
  • Isabelle Giroux
  • Christian Jacques
Original Paper


Despite numerous studies demonstrating the influence of cognitive distortions on gambling problem severity, empirical data regarding the role of psychological vulnerability on the latter is limited. Hence, this study assesses the mediating effect of cognitive distortions between psychological vulnerability (personality and mood), and gambling problem severity. It also verifies whether the relationships between these variables differs according to the preferred gambling activity. The sample is composed of 272 male gamblers [191 poker players; 81 video lottery terminal (VLT) players] aged between 18 and 82 years (M = 35.2). Bootstrap analysis results revealed that cognitive distortions mediate the effect of narcissism on gambling problem severity for both groups. The level of depression for VLT players significantly predicted gambling problem severity, both directly and indirectly via the mediating effect of cognitive distortions. Mediation analyses also indicated that narcissism had an indirect impact on problem gambling through cognitive distortions for both groups. These findings suggest that certain vulnerabilities related to personality and mood may influence cognitive distortion intensity and gambling problem severity. In addition, psychological vulnerabilities could differ based on preferred gambling activity. These results may be useful for prevention policies, identifying high risk gamblers and planning psychological interventions.


Problem gambling Poker Video lottery terminals Cognitive distortion Mediation Personality Mood 



This study was financed by the Fonds de recherche du QuébecSociété et culture (FRQ-SC; #2014-JU-173029) and the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) within the scope of the Concerted Action program. The doctoral student (first author) received scholarships from the Fonds de recherche du QuébecSociété et culture (FRQ-SC; #201856) and the Centre de réadaptation en dépendance de MontréalInstitut universitaire (CRDM-IU). The data and ideas in the manuscript were presented at the 16th International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standards

The manuscript given meets the ethics requirement for research involving human participants and was approved by the ethics committee of Université Laval (Approval No. 2013-038 A-2).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.École de psychologieUniversité LavalQuebec CityCanada
  2. 2.Département des fondements et pratiques en éducationUniversité LavalQuebec CityCanada

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