J Gambl Stud. 2022 Nov 21. doi: 10.1007/s10899-022-10166-y. Online ahead of print.
This research empirically tests the relationship between gambling-related cognitive distortions and the development of gambling problems. In two separate studies using methodologies designed to support non-experimental causal inference, we demonstrate that holding false beliefs about gambling experiences is related to current and future risk of developing problems with gambling. In our first study, we use an instrumental variable estimation strategy on an internet sample (n = 184) and observe a statistically significant relationship between Gamblers’ Belief Questionnaire scores and measures of loss chasing, overspending, and gambling problems. These findings were robust to linear and ordinal estimation strategies and multiple model specifications. In our second study, we examine five-year prospective longitudinal data (n = 1,431) to validate our initial findings and test whether irrational thoughts are also related to future problems with gambling. While controlling for current fallacies, we find that past Gambling Fallacies Measure scores are related to present gambling problems across two survey waves. The effect size of each of the past fallacy levels is roughly half of the effect size of present levels, suggesting meaningful impacts. Our findings support the Pathways Model of Problem and Pathological Gambling.