Factors affecting gambling decisions
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
A comparison of the personality profiles of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) members, social gamblers and non-gamblers on the 16 PF, EPQ and Rotter's I-E Scale showed only that GA members scored significantly higher than both social gamblers and non-gamblers on the Neuroticism Scale of the EPQ. Other factors considered to be influential in gambling decisions were investigated. There were no significant differences in the risk-taking behaviour of high compared to low locus of control subjects but the risk taken and the recall of gambling decisions by internals and externals were sensitive to information on luck. Although gambling was shown not to be a stimulus-bound activity in the traditional sense, the presence of gambling cues increased risk-taking in social gamblers but lowered risk-taking in non-gamblers. Reinforcement history, especially the ratio of the number of wins and losses, the immediately preceding outcomes and runs of wins and losses were shown to be influential in the staking behaviour and the confidence in gambling of both social gamblers and non-gamblers. Personality and situational factors did not adequately account for the differences in risk-taking decisions. Physiological variations altered risk-taking within criterion groups. Moreover, different forms of arousal were shown to have different effects on risk-taking behaviour of social gamblers and non-gamblers. Significant interactions between arousal, gambling cues and reinforcement history suggested that a diversity of variables are important in determining gambling decisions rather than simply being under the control of economic or personality factors. There is some evidence which suggests that differences in levels of arousal may be an important underlying factor in describing the differences between social gamblers and non-gamblers. The repertory grid technique was explored as a research tool departing from the traditional methods of enquiry into gambling. The overall finding was that social gamblers construed gambling as a positive activity while non-gamblers construed gambling negatively.