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25.03.2020 | Original Paper

Beliefs About Gambling Mediate the Effect of Cognitive Style on Gambling Problems

Journal of Gambling Studies
Tess Armstrong, Matthew Rockloff, Matthew Browne, Alexander Blaszczynski
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Problem gambling is often accompanied by a range of irrational cognitions that promote excessive gambling. The cognitive basis for these beliefs has been largely overlooked in the gambling literature. Dual process theory suggests there are two parallel cognitive processing systems, an intuitive and an analytic system, and that there are potential individual differences in preference for one or the other cognitive style. The current study explored whether people’s cognitive styles are an important factor in the development of specific beliefs about gambling that in-turn contribute to gambling problems. The sample consisted of 1168 regular gamblers (539 female, ranging from 18 to 78 years of age; M = 35.47, SD = 10.78) recruited via Mechanical Turk. Participants completed a survey assessing cognitive style, problem gambling severity, and measures of protective and erroneous beliefs. In a path model, greater analytical thinking and lower intuitive thinking was associated with fewer erroneous gambling beliefs, which in turn were related to fewer gambling problems. A second model showed that protective beliefs also mediated the relationship between cognitive style and gambling, demonstrating that greater analytical thinking and lower intuitive thinking was associated with protective beliefs that similarly reduced problem gambling severity. Results suggest that a person’s cognitive style influences peoples gambling by contributing to the endorsement of irrational or unsafe beliefs about gambling. Encouraging people to think more analytically may be useful in reducing erroneous beliefs about gambling that promote problematic gambling behaviour.

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