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Encouraging gamblers to think critically using generalised analytical priming is ineffective at reducing gambling biases
journal contributionposted on 2020-08-19, 00:00 authored by Tess ArmstrongTess Armstrong, Matthew RockloffMatthew Rockloff, Matthew BrowneMatthew Browne, A Blaszczynski
Gambling has been associated with an array of fallacious beliefs that foster risky gambling decisions. Research into other belief systems suggests that the endorsement of non-evidence based beliefs, such as the paranormal or conspiracy theories, can be reduced when people think more analytically. The purpose of this study was to explore whether an intervention designed to elicit analytical thinking was effective in altering the gambling beliefs and simulated gambling behaviour of 178 regular electronic gaming machine (EGM) gamblers (102 males, 76 female). Participants were randomly allocated to complete either an analytic or a neutral priming task, followed by completion of belief measures (erroneous and protective) and play on a simulated EGM game. Results failed to show that priming for analytical thinking changed betting on an EGM; including features of bet size, bet change, persistence and theoretical losses. Contrary to expectations, results suggest that priming analytical thinking using generalised interventions does not appear to be effective in altering peoples’ simulated gambling involvement or gambling beliefs. In fact, priming people to think more critically might be counterproductive by contributing to greater positive expectations about gambling outcomes. The results further suggested that the number of times a player alters their bet is a good indicator of theoretical gambling losses and is associated with irrational gambling cognitions. Interventions designed to promote safer thinking in gamblers should be implemented with care, as results from our study suggest that encouraging critical thinking in at-risk or problem gamblers may not be effective in reducing risky gambling. © 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.