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- ItemGambling and problem gambling in a sample of university students(Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2006-04) Williams, Robert J.; Connolly, Dennis; Wood, Robert T.; Nowatzki, Nadine R.University students from southern Alberta (n = 585) were administered a questionnaire to assess their gambling behaviour. Seventy-two percent reported gambling in the past 6 months, with the most common types being lotteries and instant win tickets (44%) and games of skill against other people (34%). Most students who gambled spent very little time and money doing so (median time spent = 1.5 hrs; median amount of money spent = $0). While gambling is an innocuous activity for most, a significant minority of students are heavy gamblers who experience adverse consequences from it. Seven and one-half percent of students were classified as problem or pathological gamblers, a rate significantly higher than in the general Alberta adult population. The characteristics that best differentiated problem gamblers from non-problem gamblers were more positive attitudes toward gambling, ethnicity (41% of Asian gamblers were problem gamblers), university major (kinesiology, education, management), superior ability to calculate gambling odds, and older age.
- ItemPrevention of problem gambling: Lessons learned from two Alberta programs(National Association for Gambling Studies Inc., 2004) Williams, Robert J.; Connolly, Dennis; Wood, Robert T.; Currie, ShawnThe development of effective problem gambling prevention programs is in its infancy. The present paper discusses results of randomized control trials of two programs that have been implemented in Alberta, Canada. The first is a 10 session program delivered to several classes of university students taking Introductory Statistics. This program focused primarily on teaching the probabilities associated with gambling and included several hands-on demonstrations of typical casino table games. The second is a 5 session program delivered to high school students at several sites in southern Alberta. This program was more comprehensive, containing information and exercises on the nature of gambling and problem gambling, gambling fallacies, gambling odds, decisionmaking, coping skills, and social problem-solving skills. Data concerning gambling attitudes, gambling fallacies and gambling behaviour at 3 and 6-months postintervention are presented. The findings of these studies are somewhat counter-intuitive and have important implications for the design of effective prevention programs.
- ItemDoes learning about the mathematics of gambling change gambling behavior?(American Psychological Association, 2006-03) Williams, Robert J.; Connolly, DennisThe present research examined the influence of improved knowledge of odds and mathematical expectation on the gambling behavior of university students. A group of 198 Introductory Statistics students received instruction on probability theory using examples from gambling. One comparison group of 134 students received generic instruction on probability and a second group of 138 non-Statistics students received no mathematical instruction. Six months after the intervention, students receiving the intervention demonstrated superior ability to calculate gambling odds as well as resistance to gambling fallacies. Unexpectedly, this improved knowledge and skill was not associated with any decreases in actual gambling behavior. The implication of this research is that enhanced mathematical knowledge on its own may be insufficient to change gambling behavior.