Analyzing Gambling Behaviour In Adults

Analyzing Gambling Behaviour In Adults

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Analyzing Gambling Behaviour In Adults

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Analyzing Gambling Behaviour In Adults

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Analyse Gambling Behaviour in Adults.

Introduction- Gambling is a form of recreational activity that has risks associated with it. It either embraces or ruins a person’s life. It can be defined as the event of wagering any valuable possession or money with the intention of gaining material goods or monetary benefits. Gambling is a human invention (Schwartz, 2013). Addiction refers to a pathological attachment or compulsive attraction to any substance, generally a drug (West & Brown, 2013). Therefore, compulsive gambling is a major form of addiction. It is characterized by narrowing of interests, loss of control, compulsivity, preoccupation, guilt, dishonesty and chronic relapse. Gambling leads to emotional disturbances. Unlike drug abuse and alcoholism, no physical or cognitive impairment has been associated with gambling.
Several studies have suggested that adults are more vulnerable to gambling addiction. Adults are influenced by several intrinsic and extrinsic factors while gambling. Supplementing income and financial gain are some of the extrinsic factors (Wagenaar, 2016). The intrinsic factors include distraction from boredom and loneliness, entertainment and escaping grief or sorrow. This report therefore focuses on the prevalence of gambling in adults and will illustrate the psychological needs of an addicted person and different theories that can be applied to address the issue.
Potential psychological needs- This part of the essay will build a relationship between motivation or psychological needs in older adults for gambling and the various outcomes. Much research has been carried out in correlating psychiatric needs and gambling prevalence in young adults. However, relatively little research has been performed to decipher the motivation behind older adults who are gambling addicts. Due to aging of population and increased senior citizen participation in gambling, recently research focusing on adult gambler population has emerged. Identification of the gambling motives in adults who fall across the gambling continuum is of utmost importance to realize the potential motivational factors behind this addiction (Reith, 2012). Wiliam Stekel was one of the early psychoanalysts to find similarities between alcoholism and gambling mania in adults. In his view, both the events were motivated by regression to childhood, escapism, power concerns, repressed sexuality and sadism. He also created a demarcation between a professional gambler and a real gambler. The former plays for monetary benefits and not for recreation purpose. However, the latter considers gambling as a major form of play. He recognized the fact that gambling produces alternate emotional states in an adult. It produces intense feelings of joy, hope and expectation, which makes the addict crave for excitement (Rosenthal, 2015). Gambling is often played with a fearful behavior. A person experiences states of depression and mania. Behavioral psychologists laid emphasis on the capability of gambling to induce emotional arousal or reduce tension in the person involved. 
There are many reasons, which force adults to gamble on a regular basis. These factors can be broadly categorized into two non mutual exclusive motivation types: the desire to positively reinforce arousal and excitement in the subject and the desire to negatively reinforce escape or relief from emotional stress or disturbances. Monetary and social and rewards facilitate the addictive gambling behaviour (Dechant, 2014). Owing to its nature of providing an opportunity to gain money, an addict gets lured into the game with the expectation of changing his lifestyle. The expectancies of large rewards generate excitement in the participants and they start fantasizing or dreaming about the impact of the windfall on their financial status, work, leisure and ability to support family members (Francis et al., 2015). Smaller monetary or materialistic wins also provide a gaining position to the addict and further influences them to pursue gambling in expectation of larger wins. Importantly, the environment in which gambling is being conducted and the type of game being played is highly conducive to motivate a person. It influences his social interaction and adds to the inherent enjoyment. Casinos, clubs and hotels are located at recreational areas, which offer a wide variety of entertainment options like beverage, food, and shows to an addict. This directly increases the person’s interest in the game. Social isolation and loneliness lead to development of poor mental and physical health. To escape such feelings, gamblers visit these venues frequently to meet their game partners more often, interact socially, and test their game skills and luck in a safe place.
Gambling helps in alleviating isolated feelings. Addictive gambling is also influenced by certain community factors and family like, previous familial gambling history and social abstention on gambling. Peer pressure creates an influence on adult gambling behaviour (Subramaniam et al., 2015). Addicted gamblers become secretive of their daily schedules and less inclined to interact with family and friends. These factors isolate the gambler from his surroundings. Thus, his feelings get intensified. The individual feels the need to escape from such a situation by gambling more, which leads to addiction. Low levels of education and low socio-economic status is another factor that psychologically affects people who participate in addictive gambling. Several studies suggest that problem gamblers and non-problem gamblers are affected by similar motivations. However, the motivational strength differs for each of them. Recent studies provide evidence that adult men are thrice more likely to have gambling addiction compared to adult women. Adult men seem to be in expectation of more reinforcement in the form of rewards or amusement than women. They have more positive expectancies from the game when compared to females. Men maximize the perceived benefits of the addiction and minimize the risks associated with it (Ariyabuddhiphongs, 2012).
Application of theories to address addictive gambling- Gambling addiction is governed by a set of interrelated factors and determinants, which encompass several developmental, personal, psychophysiological and cognitive components. Different theories can be applied to analyze if the consequences of the behavior of a gambling addict is determined by external factors or under his personal control. One such theory is the locus of control theory, proposed by Julian Rotter. The theory illustrates the degree to which a person believes that he has control over the outcome of his life events, as opposed to the influence of external forces. A person’s locus or loci is either internal or external (Lefcourt, 2014). When a person interprets that his behavioral consequences are controlled by fate, luck or powers, it indicates an external locus of control belief. Conversely, Rotter stated that if the person interprets his behavior to be influenced by personality characteristics, it indicates an internal locus of control belief. When a person develops, several behaviors are learnt due to reinforcement outcomes. Such reinforcement increases the person’s expectancy that a certain behavior will produce the desired result (Carver & Scheier, 2012). On establishment of this expectancy, the removal of the reinforcement will make the expectancy to fade. Thus, reinforcement is at times contingent upon behavior, and at times not. With time, the person will get frequently exposed to such rewarding experiences in which their behavior will directly influence the outcome. However, for some people, the reinforcement can result from action of external sources. Rotter claimed that the summation of a person’s learning experiences creates a generalized expectancy on whether the reinforcement is externally or internally controlled. Therefore, internal locus of control indicates presence of mental competence that is needed for manifestation of a rational behavior. However, external locus of control focuses on temporary disruption that leads to precipitation of irrational behaviour (Orgaz, Estévez & Matute, 2013). Several studies have suggested that gamblers have high external locus of control which is mainly directed by peer pressure, environmental experiences and community behavior. Gamblers addicted to lotteries did not believe in skill. Luck played a positive influence in predicting their gambling frequency. However, for regular bettors, their internal locus of control rationally influences their betting choices. They gamble based on their previous experiences and win more than the loss they suffer. The bad beats, which a bettor experiences can be devastating and can trigger a series of events related to gambling. It can disturb the gambler’s orientation and he can switch the locus of control from internal to external. This disorientation produces dramatic changes in his money management techniques and may bring great financial loss (Spurrier & Blaszczynski, 2014). They take time to realize the futility of their irrational behavior and start gaining internal control to recover their orientation and resume gambling.
Another theory which can be applied to address the psychosocial needs of gambling addicts is the social cognitive theory. It was proposed by Bandura in the year 1986.  According to this theory people are considered as proactive, self ­organizing, self reflecting and self regulating organisms (Weary, Gleicher & Marsh, 2012). They were not regarded as reactive organisms that were shaped by environmental factors or inner impulses. The theory considered personal factors in the form of cognition, biological events or affect, behavioral changes and environmental interactions that result in reciprocation in the person. Social-cognitive theory is instructive for the gambling addiction problem. In terms of this social cognitive theory, expectancies and beliefs, evaluative standards, and goals and are the four critical constituents of a personality. It works on the principal of triadic reciprocal actions. These three elements can be applied to illustrate gambling behavior. When a person starts to gamble, he is quite convinced that gambling is an acceptable form of recreation or enjoyment. According to the social cognitive theory, our behaviors and decisions are directly governed by our personal beliefs. The wrong beliefs the gamblers hold have caused them to step into a regretful and unfortunate life- addiction to gambling. Cognitive misperceptions lead to the development of addictive behavior, which aq person may consider attractive (Schunk & Usher, 2012). Most gambling addicts view it as an easy source of experiencing fun and easy money. Such obscure expectations and lead them to addiction. Moreover, evaluative standards are responsible for guiding the actions. These refer to the personal beliefs of the person on what and how things are supposed to be. Addictive gamblers are in a continuous pursuit of mental euphoria and excitement. They view gambling as a form of entertainment rather than personal harm. Thus, they are driven by internal emotions, which haunt their minds and drive them to stick to the game of gambling. They fail to realize that gambling is illegal. Therefore, they continue practicing the game considering it is legal and a good form of recreation.
Contribution of the theories to understand clinical exposure- Compulsive gambling is the uncontrollable urge that stimulates the reward system in the brain of an addict and takes a toll on his life. Understanding and treating addictive gambling is challenging. The two theories can be analyzed to understand the clinical exposure of the gamble addiction on a person. The social cognitive theory viewed human functioning as a dynamic interaction between behavioral, personal and environmental influences. The basic principle of this theory can be applied to identify cognitive distortions, negative thoughts and erroneous perceptions about gambling in a person that is responsible for influencing the person to continue practicing the game (Tang & Wu, 2012). Cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) utilize this information. CBT has been proved to be effective in identifying potential risks for gambling addiction and treating them. Once the internal and external factors are identified, the client and the therapist can collaborate to and devise a problem solving approach to avoid that situation. These methods work best in highly motivated gamblers. A survey or questionnaire formed on the basis of the two theories can identify cognitive distortions. Gamblers should be encouraged to follow a self exclusion ban from the venue, avoid meeting financial partners, cancel credit cards and refrain themselves from influence of peer groups.
Conclusion- Thus, it can be concluded that addictive gambling is a complicated biopsychosocial disorder that creates devastating and dramatic consequences on an individual and his family. The prevalence of legalized gambling makes the situation worse. The locus of control and social cognitive theory explains the motivation behind such behaviour. Effective strategies should be developed to identify the psychological cause of gambling. A thorough analysis of various theories that explain gambling motivation can help in formulating therapies like CBT and strategies for application on gamblers. Standardization of such practice guidelines need to be followed to achieve success.
Ariyabuddhiphongs, V. (2012). Older adults and gambling: A review. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 10(2), 297-308.
Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2012). Attention and self-regulation: A control-theory approach to human behavior. Springer Science & Business Media.
Dechant, K. (2014). Show me the money: Incorporating financial motives into the Gambling Motives Questionnaire. Journal of Gambling Studies, 30(4), 949-965.
Francis, K. L., Dowling, N. A., Jackson, A. C., Christensen, D. R., & Wardle, H. (2015). Gambling motives: Application of the reasons for gambling questionnaire in an Australian population survey. Journal of Gambling Studies, 31(3), 807-823.
Lefcourt, H. M. (Ed.). (2014). Locus of control: Current trends in theory & research. Psychology Press.
Orgaz, C., Estévez, A., & Matute, H. (2013). Pathological gamblers are more vulnerable to the illusion of control in a standard associative learning task. Frontiers in psychology, 4.
Reith, G. (2012). Beyond addiction or compulsion: the continuing role of environment in the case of pathological gambling. Addiction, 107(10), 1736-1737.
Rosenthal, R. J. (2015). Masochism and pathological gambling. Psychodynamic psychiatry, 43(1), 1-25.
Schunk, D. H., & Usher, E. L. (2012). Social Cognitive Theory and. APA educational psychology handbook, 1.
Schwartz, D. G. (2013). Roll the bones: The history of gambling.
Spurrier, M., & Blaszczynski, A. (2014). Risk perception in gambling: A systematic review. Journal of Gambling Studies, 30(2), 253-276.
Subramaniam, M., Wang, P., Soh, P., Vaingankar, J. A., Chong, S. A., Browning, C. J., & Thomas, S. A. (2015). Prevalence and determinants of gambling disorder among older adults: a systematic review. Addictive behaviors, 41, 199-209.
Tang, C. S. K., & Wu, A. M. (2012). Gambling-related cognitive biases and pathological gambling among youths, young adults, and mature adults in Chinese societies. Journal of Gambling Studies, 28(1), 139-154.
Wagenaar, W. A. (2016). Paradoxes of gambling behaviour. Routledge.
Weary, G., Gleicher, F., & Marsh, K. L. (Eds.). (2012). Control motivation and social cognition. Springer Science & Business Media.
West, R., & Brown, J. (2013). Theory of addiction. John Wiley & Sons.

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