Investigating the relationship between implicit memory associations and gambling

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Russell, Gillian
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : Universtiy of Lethbridge, Department of Psychology
The purpose of this thesis was to a) develop measures to capture and quantify implicit memory associations in gambling, and b) identify the presence and magnitude of these implicit associations as it relates to a person’s level of gambling involvement and problem gambling. Study 1 involved the development and evaluation of two measures assessing different aspects of implicit memory in a sample of 494 University of Lethbridge undergraduate students. The first measure was a ‘word associates’ task involving people’s immediate word associations for specific words, and the second measure was a ‘behaviour associates’ task in which people indicate the automatic behaviours or actions that come to mind with a certain word or phrase. In both situations many of the words and phrases presented had potential gambling connotations. An analysis of the performance of individual items in Study 1 helped guide the creation of two shorter measures for Study 2. In Study 2 these shortened measures were administered to a more nationally representative online panel sample of 3,078 Canadians (oversampled for gambling involvement) and the results re-analyzed. The findings of these two studies confirm that the presence and frequency of implicit gambling-related associations increases to a significant degree as a person’s level of gambling involvement and problem gambling increases. Future research is needed to better understand a) whether these implicit associations precede gambling involvement or whether they are a result of gambling involvement; b) their utility in helping identify problem gamblers in denial; and c) their utility in both preventing problem gambling and predicting relapse.
gambling , implicit assessment methods , implicit memory associations , outcome-behaviour associations , problem gambling