Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pathological gambling caused by excessive optimism

Date:
April 29, 2013
Source:
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange)
Summary:
Compulsive gamblers suffer from an optimism bias that modifies their subjective representation of probability and affects their decisions in situations involving high-risk monetary wagers.

Compulsive gamblers suffer from an optimism bias that modifies their subjective representation of probability and affects their decisions in situations involving high-risk monetary wagers. This is the conclusion drawn by Jean-Claude Dreher's research team at the CNC (Centre de Neurosciences Cognitives, CNRS / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1). These findings, published in the May print edition of Psychological Medicine, could help explain and anticipate certain individuals' vulnerability to gambling, and could lead to new therapeutic approaches.

A growing number of gamblers suffer from pathological gambling, a disease that is usually characterized as either a loss of impulse control or a behavioral addiction. It results in an inability to limit the frequency of gambling and the amount of money wagered. This increasingly common psychiatric disorder creates financial, professional and personal hardships that can have severe consequences for the patients and the people around them. The mechanisms responsible for its emergence and development remain largely unknown, which limits the clinician's ability to proceed with a diagnosis, prognosis or effective treatment for this condition.

In this study, the researchers set out to test and verify the hypothesis that links pathological gambling to an alteration of probabilistic reasoning. The capacity to reason in probabilistic terms appears only at an advanced stage of human intellectual development (in fact, the basic concept of probability is not fully understood until the age of 11 or 12). Pioneering research in the late 1970s had already shed light on the difficulties that people experience in situations involving risk or uncertainty. These difficulties are reflected in the development and perpetuation in adults of cognitive biases1 specific to probabilistic decision-making, one of the most common being probability distortion (2).

The researchers conducted an experiment on compulsive gambling patients using a standard experimental economics task and a mathematical model for measuring both probability distortion and a more general optimism bias in relation to high-risk bets. The primary result obtained confirms the general hypothesis of a distortion, associated with pathological gambling, in the subjective representation of probabilities. The results also show that the compulsion to gamble is not explained by an exaggerated distortion of probability, but rather by an increased optimism bias. In other words, regardless of the objective probability of winning a high-risk bet, gamblers tend to act as though this probability were greater than it actually is. The researchers also observed that in the patient population under study, the intensity of this bias was significantly correlated to the severity of the symptoms.

For clinical psychiatrists, the simplicity of the procedure used to reach this conclusion could offer a rapid and reliable way of measuring the representation of probability, thus allowing them to refine both their diagnoses and therapeutic decisions. This study raises many new questions for researchers in the cognitive neurosciences: how does the brain represent the probability of winning? How do the cerebral structures responsible for this representation interact with the structures involved in the development and perpetuation of an addiction? Is a pathological gambler's particular relationship to probability accompanied by an increased sensitivity to reward and/or insensitivity to monetary loss? These important questions are now being investigated at the CNC.

(1) Internal or external influence causing an alteration of human judgment or perception.

(2) Identified by the Nobel laureates Kahneman and Tversky in 1979, probability distortion is characterized by the overestimation of low probabilities and underestimation of high probabilities.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Ligneul, G. Sescousse, G. Barbalat, P. Domenech, J.-C. Dreher. Shifted risk preferences in pathological gambling. Psychological Medicine, 2012; 43 (05): 1059 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291712001900

Cite This Page:

CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Pathological gambling caused by excessive optimism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429102400.htm>.
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). (2013, April 29). Pathological gambling caused by excessive optimism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429102400.htm
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Pathological gambling caused by excessive optimism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429102400.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Most people don’t realize that ADHD isn’t just for kids. It can affect the work as well as personal lives of many adults, and often times they don’t even know they have it. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Sight and Sounds of Autism

The Sight and Sounds of Autism

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — A new study is explaining why for some people with autism what they see and what they hear is out of sync. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) — New research finds we get more excited to buy experiences than we do to buy material things. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins