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

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posted on 2023-05-21, 14:18 authored by D'Amico, NJ, Drummond, A, Kristy de SalasKristy de Salas, Lewis, I, Waugh, C, Bannister, B, James SauerJames Sauer
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.

Funding

The Royal Society of New Zealand

History

Publication title

Scientific Reports

Volume

12

Article number

16751

Number

16751

Pagination

1-12

ISSN

2045-2322

Department/School

School of Psychological Sciences

Publisher

Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

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.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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