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No effect of short term exposure to gambling like reward systems on post game risk taking


D'Amico, NJ and Drummond, A and de Salas, K and Lewis, I and Waugh, C and Bannister, B and Sauer, JD, No effect of short term exposure to gambling like reward systems on post game risk taking, Scientific Reports, 12, (1) Article 16751. ISSN 2045-2322 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright (2022) The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-022-21222-3


Is engaging with gambling-like video game rewards a risk factor for future gambling? Despite speculation, there are no direct experimental tests of this "gateway hypothesis". We test a mechanism that might support this pathway: the effects of engaging with gambling-like reward mechanisms on risk-taking. We tested the hypothesis that players exposed to gambling-like rewards (i.e., randomised rewards delivered via a loot box) would show increased risk-taking compared to players in fixed and no reward control conditions. 153 participants (Mage = 25) completed twenty minutes of gameplay—including exposure to one of the three reward conditions—before completing a gamified, online version of the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). Self-reports of gambling and loot box engagement were collected via the Problem Gambling Severity Index, and Risky Loot-Box Index. Bayesian t-tests comparing BART scores across reward conditions provided moderate to strong evidence for a null effect of condition on risk-taking (BF = 4.05–10.64). Null effects were not moderated by players’ problem gambling symptomatology. A Spearman correlation between past loot box engagement and self-reported gambling severity (rs = 0.35) aligned with existing literature. Our data speak against a "gateway" hypothesis, but add support to the notion that problem gambling symptoms might make players vulnerable to overspending on loot boxes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:gaming, loot box, risk taking, gambling
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Cognition
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:D'Amico, NJ (Ms Nicholas D'Amico)
UTAS Author:de Salas, K (Associate Professor Kristy de Salas)
UTAS Author:Lewis, I (Professor Ian Lewis)
UTAS Author:Waugh, C (Mr Callan Waugh)
UTAS Author:Bannister, B (Miss Breanna Bannister)
UTAS Author:Sauer, JD (Associate Professor Jim Sauer)
ID Code:153865
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2022-10-12
Last Modified:2022-11-25
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