The Portrayal of Gambling and Cognitive Biases in Chinese Gambling-Themed Movies



This study was undertaken to explore movie portrayals of Chinese gambling behaviors. More than 350 observation hours were spent reviewing and documenting 39 Chinese gambling-themed movies. In general, observations found that Chinese gambling-themed movies tended to portray gambling positively. More importantly, cognitive distortions were represented commonly in these Chinese gambling-themed movies. Specifically, active illusionary control via skill efficacy was depicted most frequently, followed by cognitive control, talismanic control, and behavioral control. Passive illusionary control via luck was represented regularly in these movies. These findings will help policymakers to understand the extent and types of distortion better as well as misinformation that Chinese gambling-themed movies convey to the public.


Gambling movie Chinese Cognitive distortion 


  1. Australian Network News (2012) Australia's casinos betting big on Chinese gamblers. Australian Network News, February. Located at: Last accessed 2 Feb 2015.
  2. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Behm, M. E., & Mastro, D. E. (2008). ‘Mean girls? The influence of gender Portrayals in teen movies on emerging adults’ gender-based attitudes and beliefs. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 85, 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chan, B. (2010). Gamblers and tricksters: the forgotten gambling movies of the 1970s. Journal of Chinese Cinemas, 4(2), 89–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chan, C. C., & Ohtsuka, K. (2009). Desperate housewives: an analysis of the characterizations of female gamblers portrayed in gambling movies in Hong Kong. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7, 229–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chan, C. C., & Ohtsuka, K. (2011). All for the winner: an analysis of the characterization of male gamblers in Hong Kong movies with gambling theme. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 9, 208–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Coman, G. J., Burrows, G. D., & Evans, B. J. (1997). Stress and anxiety as factors in the onset of problem gambling: implications for treatment. Stress Medicine, 13, 235–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dement, J. W. (1999). Going for Broke: the depiction of compulsive gambling in film. Maryland, USA: Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  10. Engels, R. C., Hermans, R., Van Baaren, R. B., Hollenstein, T., & Bot, S. M. (2009). Alcohol portrayal on television affects actual drinking behaviour. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 44(3), 244–249.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Fong, D. K. C., & Ozorio, B. (2005). Gambling participation and prevalence estimates of pathological gambling in a Far-East Gambling City: Macao. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, 9(2), 15–28.Google Scholar
  12. Fong, L. H. N., Law, R., & Lam, D. (2014). An examination of factors driving Chinese gamblers’ fallacy bias. Journal of Gambling Studies, 30(3), 757–770.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hong, Y. Y., & Chiu, C. Y. (1998). Sex, locus of control, and illusion of control in Hong Kong as correlates of gambling involvement. Journal of Social Psychology, 128(5), 667–673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ladouceur, R., Gaboury, A., Dumont, M., & Rochette, P. (1988). Gambling: relationship between the frequency of wins and irrational thinking. Journal of Psychology, 122(4), 409–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lam, D. (2006). An observation study of Chinese baccarat players. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, 11(2), 63–73.Google Scholar
  16. Lam, D. (2009). The world of Chinese gambling. Adelaide: Peacock Publications.Google Scholar
  17. Lam, D. (2014). Chopsticks and gambling. NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Langer, E. J. (1975). The illusion of control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 311–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Langer, E. J., & Roth, J. (1975). ‘Heads you win, tails it's chance: the illusion of control as a function of the sequence of outcomes in a purely chance task. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 951–955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Papineau, E. (2005). Pathological gambling in Montreal’s Chinese community: an anthropological perspective. Journal of Gambling Studies, 21(2), 157–178.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Riley, C. (2014). Macau's gambling industry dwarfs Vegas. CNN Money. Located at: Last accessed 2 Dec 2014.
  22. Rivlin, G. (2007). Las Vegas caters to Asian high rollers. The New York Times. Located at: Last accessed 2 Dec 2014.
  23. Sargent, J. D., Dalton, M. A., Beach, M. L., Mott, L. A., Tickle, J. J., Ahrens, M. B., & Heatherton, T. F. (2002). Viewing tobacco use in movies: does it shape attitudes that mediate adolescent smoking? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 22(3), 137–145.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Strinati, D. (2004). An introduction to theories of popular culture (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic China (2011). Located at: Last accessed 2 May 2014.
  26. Toneatto, T., Blitz-Miller, T., Calderwood, K., Dragonetti, R., & Tsanos, A. (1997). Cognitive distortions in heavy gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 13(3), 253–266.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Turner, N. E., Fritz, B., & Zangeneh, M. (2007). Images of gambling in film. Journal of Gambling Issues, 20, 117–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wong, S. S., & Tsang, S. K. (2012). Validation of the Chinese version of the gamblers’ belief questionnaire (GBQ-C). Journal of Gambling Studies, 28(4), 561–572.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Wood, W. S., & Clapham, M. M. (2005). Development of the drake beliefs about chance inventory. Journal of Gambling Studies, 21(4), 411–430.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Yao, Q., Stout, D. A., & Liu, Z. (2011). China's official media portrayal of religion (1996–2005): policy change in a Desecularizing Society. Journal of Media and Religion, 10(1), 39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zhou, K., Tang, H., Sun, Y., Huang, G. H., Rao, L. L., Liang, Z. Y., & Li, S. (2012). Belief in luck or in skill: which locks people into gambling? Journal of Gambling Studies, 28(3), 379–391.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macau Gaming Management AssociationMacauChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Business AdministrationUniversity of Macau, E22TaipaChina

Personalised recommendations