Impulsivity and Problem Gambling: Can the Anticipated Emotional Rewards Explain the Relationship?

  • Mal FlackEmail author
  • Beryl Buckby
Original Article


Impulsivity is one of the individual level dispositional characteristics that have shown a robust association with problem gambling. However, the way in which impulsivity shapes gambling behaviour is less well understood. The current study examined the explanatory role of gambling outcome expectancies of escape and excitement to further explore the relationship between impulsivity and problem gambling. A total of 491 community members completed an online questionnaire that assessed impulsivity, the anticipated emotional benefits of gambling (escape and excitement outcome expectancies), gambling frequency and problem gambling. Although escape and excitement outcome expectancies partially accounted for the relationship between impulsivity and problem gambling scores, escape moderated the relationship. Specifically, impulsivity was not related to problem gambling when less favourable views of escape outcome expectancies were held. Conversely, the relationship between impulsivity and problem gambling strengthened when escape outcome expectancies were more favourable. The findings indicate the escape outcome expectancies play a significant role in determining the degree to which impulsivity influences problematic gambling. The results suggest engendering more unfavourable beliefs towards using gambling as a form of escapism or a way to cope with negative affect may be helpful, especially for gamblers with heightened levels of impulsivity.


Impulsivity Gambling outcome expectancies Problem gambling Escape Excitement Mood regulation Affect Mediators Moderators 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Ethics approval was obtained by the Charles Darwin University’s Human Ethics Committee to conduct to research.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Health and Human SciencesCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia
  2. 2.College of Healthcare SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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