Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
As legalized gambling venues continue to emerge throughout the United States, the already present problem of pathological gambling is likely to evolve in to a great issue of social concern. The vast body of literature on the effects of choice and choice overload, or the experience of negative side effects due to large choice arrays, may further contribute to an understanding of gambling behavior and treatment. The current set of experiments sought to extend the previous literature on choice to a gambling context to expand the behavioral model of gambling. The purpose of Experiment I was to determine whether maximizers, or those who tend to carefully examine options, and satisficers, or those who choose with little deliberation, differ in terms of frequency of switching slot machines, a possible behavioral marker of maximization. The results demonstrated that maximizers switched among available slot machines significantly more frequently than satisficers. Experiment II investigated further links between gambling behavior and maximization. A significant correlation between maximization and outcomes of the Problem Gambling Severity Index were observed, suggesting that these phenomena are related. Experiment III tested the effects of an intervention requiring participants to make repeated choices as an abolishing operation on subsequent gambling behavior. Participants who repeatedly made choices gambled significantly fewer trials on slot machines when allowed to play freely compared to those who simply watched a gambling video. Overall, the literature on choice and the phenomena of maximization and choice overload add to the behavioral model of gambling by suggesting new relevant variables in the determination of gambling behavior.
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