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Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- Reasons and factors for the formation of psychological dependence on gambling addiction

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Reasons and factors for the formation of psychological dependence on gambling addiction

A. Y. Zinina, psychologist,

Saint Petersburg State University,

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Various theories of pathological gambling have been put forward in the literature on the problems of gambling addiction. However, a review of numerous studies by domestic and foreign authors revealed the lack of a common understanding of the causes of gambling addiction. So far, there is no obvious explanation why for some people gambling is a pleasant entertainment, while others turn it into an obsessive passion that destroys their lives.

Psychoanalytic theorists argue that compulsive gamblers have an unconscious desire to lose in order to relieve mental guilt. Behaviorists view pathological gambling as learned maladaptive behavior. Biological theories state that a gambler may have a predisposed physiological and/or biological basis for engaging in gambling. Personality theorists suggest that there may be a "gambling personality", which is a cluster of traits that defines a player as either casual or risk-averse. From a cognitive point of view, gaming behavior is associated with strong cognitive distortions, the "illusion of control" and other erroneous representations of players (irrational beliefs). This means that gamblers are dealing not only with chance, but also with psychological factors such as belief in luck and skill. However, it seems unlikely that any one theory can fully explain persistent gambling, and the best conceptual models of gambling are those that use an eclectic approach [3].

Currently, pathological gambling is considered from the point of view of the biopsychosocial-spiritual model. There are several variables that play a role in the development and maintenance of gambling addiction: family factors (social learning and genetics), sociological factors (social factors) and individual factors (personality, biological/biochemistry, cognition and psychological states) [2, 11].

There are a number of genetic studies that show that the pursuit of intense and sometimes detrimental pleasure seeking is biologically prescribed, although individual behavioral choices vary. For example, in a study of "high-action" games, monozygotic male twins were found to be similar in frequency of game play [15]. A study of 3359 pairs of twins established the fact of family accumulation of pathological dependence on the game [16].

Sociological studies have established the fact of the influence of social factors on the formation of personal qualities and the creation of certain conditions and circumstances in which gambling addiction develops. As a social factor, a number of researchers note: the situational availability of gambling (online games, round-the-clock operation, anonymity, etc.); a crisis in the ideological, spiritual, economic and other spheres of public life, which destroys existing ideals and stereotypes of behavior; pressure from advertising and consumer culture; archetypes of consciousness [7, 12].

Age, gender, immigrant status, ethnicity, marital status, income, education, employment position, and social status are all factors that can affect a person's game models. For example, for gamblers belonging to low status and minority groups (immigrants, ethnic minorities, low-income people), social rewards are more attractive, which increases the chances of developing gambling addiction.

In studies of domestic and foreign psychologists, the importance of the role of the family in shaping the personality of an addicted gambler is noted. The period of childhood and growing up of gamblers is often associated with the loss of a close family member, violation of family relationships and values, failure of parental upbringing and the influence of family attitudes. The negative childhood experience of inconsistency, subservience, low self-esteem and spiritual rejection among loved ones is further reflected in the personal vulnerability of the gamblers. In adulthood, pathological gamblers try to fill this gap with gambling, getting that boost of energy and positive emotions that they did not receive in childhood [4, 8, 10].

An additional predictor of problem gambling is codependency, which is based on a dysfunctional family. As the codependent problem gambler enters adulthood, gambling and winning become a symbolic way to recreate relationships. Such gamblers often feel themselves involved in a kind of "treadmill" of existence. Whether goals are achieved or not, whether they lose or win, codependent gamblers develop a compelled desire for more that leaves them with an unsettling feeling of incompleteness or emptiness [5].

It is impossible not to notice that with a variety of points of view, researchers cannot come to a consensus about the external risk factors that contribute to the development of gambling addiction. The impulse to play does not arise suddenly, the reasons may be different. Consequently, these factors may or may not be the reasons for the unfavorable formation of the personality of a pathological gambler and are purely individual in each individual case. When developing programs for the rehabilitation and prevention of pathological gambling, this fact must be taken into account.

According to some studies, the factors contributing to the development of psychological dependence on gambling include: premorbid personality anomalies - immaturity and personality accentuations [13, 14].

The immaturity of the gambler's personality is manifested in the tendency to seek protection and support from others, the inability to take responsibility for one's actions and make rational decisions, some social immaturity, conformal reactions, lack of positive social motivation, etc. These qualities, according to V. A. Zhmurova, are hallmarks of a neurotic personality, which includes internal inconsistencies, stagnation, defenses, egocentrism, and a focus on subjective personal values [17].

According to the concept of K. Leonhard, accentuated personalities potentially contain both the possibility of socially positive achievements and a socially negative charge. The presence of accentuated, "pointed features" leaves an imprint on the personality, having a devastating effect [1]. A comparative study of the psychological characteristics of young people with gambling and drug (opioid) addiction revealed a strong manifestation of hyperthymic, anxious and cyclothymic types of character accentuation among pathological gamblers. With a progressive course, gambling addiction exacerbates and exacerbates characterological predispositions [14].

It should be noted that the question of the significance of accentuated character traits in the formation of gambling addiction remains debatable. According to the position of Molchanova Y. Yu., the process of formation of dependence on gambling is identical for persons with deviations of character and persons with a “normal” psychological predisposition, and is largely associated with a distortion of the hierarchy of values of society [9].

In relation to the issue of motives for engaging in gambling, several potential motives have been described in the literature: demonstrating self-worth, gaining approval and social recognition from others, removing negative and painful events / emotions (for example, anger, depression, frustration and anxiety), hope for victory, social factors, adrenaline/excitement.

Two categories of players' motivational profile can be defined:

1. Self-defined motivational profile – internal motivation (adrenaline, a sense of accomplishment or the opportunity to expand knowledge, etc.) or a certain regulation (goal achievement).

2. Non-independent motivational profile – external regulation (obtaining external rewards) [6, 10].

Pathological attraction to gambling is a multicomponent structure, including ideational (mental), behavioral (volitional, activity), emotional, sensory and vegetative mental activity [4].

In the structure of the ideational component of the pathological attraction to gambling, two levels of disorders are distinguished:

1. overvalued ideas: dominating game thoughts, displacing everything that contradicts the dominant belief; no motivational battle;

2. "cognitive errors" close to paranoid: clear beliefs, arguments in favor of the necessity, expediency, justification of the game process.

The affective component is represented by: a decrease in interest in the surrounding reality; low mood, accompanied by short anxiety attacks, dysphoria, emotional lability; desire for loneliness, rejection of emotional contacts, etc.

Behavioral manifestations are of great diagnostic value and are perhaps the most sensitive indicator of the condition of a particular patient at a given time.

The emotional-volitional sphere of gambling addicts is characterized by impulsiveness combined with rigidity of behavioral strategies and fixation of non-adaptive attitudes. For pathological gamblers, the game becomes an "emotional hook" - the stronger the emotions, the stronger the addiction. As a result, the gambler actually depends not on the game, but on emotions. Emotional instability is formed, the feelings of gamblers become superficial. The loss of the ability for conscious volitional control of behavior leads to behavioral disorders and antisocial actions of the gamblers. There is a fading of altruistic motives, the loss of moral and ethical attitudes, the individual image is lost.

In the light of the foregoing, it is important to recognize that the fight against gambling involves, first of all, the study of the personality, its characteristics, psychological and physiological aspects, and then the consideration of legal measures. Through the study of the psychological aspects of gambling addiction and the personal characteristics of gambling addicts, it is possible to predict changes in both the most addicted person and possible changes in the type of addiction in the context of preventing the development of gambling addiction and rehabilitation. No law can fight addiction until there are alternative conditions for dealing with the psychological problems faced by people who gamble.


1.    Alekseeva E. A., Vyboyshchik I. V., Parshukova L. P. Accentuations of character // Chelyabinsk: YuUrGU Publishing House, 2002. Vol.47. [in Russian]

2.    Bayer, Linda N. Out of control: gambling and other impulse control disorders // Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000. Р. 95

3.    Blaszczynski A., Nower L. A pathways model of problem and pathological gambling // Addiction, 2002. Vol.97(5). Р. 487–499.

4.    Buzik O. Zh. Gambling addiction: clinical manifestations, features of the course, treatment: dis. – Scientific research. center of narcology, 2008. [in Russian]

5.    Calderwood K. A., Rajesparam A. Applying the codependency concept to concerned significant others of problem gamblers: Words of caution // Journal of Gambling Issues, 2014. Vol. 29. Р. 1–16.

6.    Fang X., Mowen J. C. Examining the trait and functional motive antecedents of four gambling activities: Slot machines, skilled card games, sports betting, and promotional games // Journal of Consumer Marketing, 2009. Vol.26(2). Р. 121–131.

7.    Hing N. et al. Do advertising and promotions for online gambling increase gambling consumption? An exploratory study // International Gambling Studies, 2014. Vol.14(3). Р. 394–409.

8.    Korolenko Ts. P., Dmitrieva N. V. Psychosocial addiction // Novosibirsk, "Olsib", 2015. [in Russian]

9.    Molchanova Yu. Yu. To the question of the psychological characteristics of the personality of the players // Modern achievements in narcology // Proceedings of the conference dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the National Scientific Center for Narcology. Moscow, 2005. Р. 80–81. [in Russian]

10. Molchanova Yu. Yu., Surnov K. G. Value perceptions of gamblers and healthy individuals: abstracts. report // Sat. scientific materials. conf. // Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation and others. Moscow: Medpraktika-M Publishing House, 2008. P. 335–336. [in Russian]

11. Raylu N., Oei T. P. S. Pathological gambling: A comprehensive review // Clinical psychology review, 2002. Vol.22(7). Р. 1009–1061.

12. Shepel Yu. Gambling as a tool for the destruction of society // Publisher: Editorial Board of the magazine "Power" (Moscow), 2007. Vol. 7. [in Russian]

13. Tsygankov B. D. et al. Non-chemical addictions: pathological gambling addiction. Internet addiction. dependence on computer games // Questions of narcology, 2007. Vol. 4. Р. 18–38. [in Russian] https://www.elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=11518324

14. Volkova E. A., Egorov A. Yu. Personal characteristics of gamblers and drug addicts // Narcology, 2007. Vol. 6(4). Р. 39–43. [in Russian]

15. Winters K. C., Rich T. A twin study of adult gambling behavior //Journal of Gambling Studies, 1998. Vol. 14(3). Р. 213–225.

16. Xian H. et al. Genetic and environmental contributions to pathological gambling symptoms in a 10-year follow-up // Twin Research and Human Genetics, 2007. Vol. 10(1). Р. 174–179. DOI https://doi.org/10.1375/twin.10.1.174

Zhmurov V.A. Psychopathology. Part II Chapter 17. Syndromes of addiction // Irkutsk, Irkutsk University Publishing House, 1986. Р. 217. [in Russian]

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