October 5, 2022
Distorted Beliefs about Luck and Skill and Their Relation to Gambling

Distorted Beliefs about Luck and Skill and Their Relation to Gambling

Distorted Beliefs about Luck and Skill and Their Relation to Gambling

Have you ever asked yourself what leads to problem gambling? Well, there are many postulated pathways to the problem. However, cognitive distortions are believed to be an important process through which problem and disordered gambling develop and are maintained.  

At the center of the cognitive theory of gambling disorder, are gambling-related cognitive distortions. The theory postulates that cognitive distortions (or erroneous beliefs and misconceptions) are involved in the instigation and perpetuation of problem gambling.  

These distortions include a set of incorrect or exaggerated fundamental beliefs affecting the instinctive thoughts and behaviors a punter displays or experiences during a game. The beliefs may come from the punter’s misconception of randomness.

Opportunities for monetary gains motivate such gamblers to strategize on how they can increase their chances of winning using their gambling-related skills. However, these faulty beliefs cause a gambler to continually engage in gambling while perceiving reasons for losses wrongly. 


The Link Between Cognitive Distortions and Gambling Problems

Studies have consistently shown that there is a link between gambling-related cognitive distortions and gambling problems. These distortions are directly proportional to the gravity of problem gambling. 

Scientists have discovered that non-problem and social punters exhibit less cognitive distortions as compared to distorted and problem punters. 


The Link Between Cognitive Distortions and Gambling Behaviors

A 2004 study revealed that gamblers with greater mythical beliefs around gambling gambled more than those who had less of these beliefs. 

A 2008 study demonstrated that gambling-related cognitive distortions were directly proportional to risky gambling behaviors such as borrowing money to gamble and going back to gamble to recover prior losses. 


Are There Cultural Differences?

Different cultures define gambling differently. That is why certain gambling practices are agreeable in some cultures but intolerable in others. 

With these cultural beliefs come some risk and/or protective factors that encourage or prevent disordered gambling. While most cultures exhibit beliefs in luck and chance, some cultures are extreme when it comes to myths, luck, chance, and fate. 

This raises the question of whether there are cultural differences in betting-related cognitive distortions. 


A Recent Study

Most studies on the relationship between cognitive distortions and problem gambling and betting behaviors have previously concentrated in North America. The findings show that beliefs in luck and skill contribute to gambling problems among Canadian punters.

A 2007 study was conducted among Dutch gamblers to confirm Gambling Cognitive Inventory (GCI) as a measure of cognitive distortions in cultures other than those in North America. 

The results showed that among Dutch gamblers, beliefs about skill contributed to excessive gambling behaviors and beliefs about luck influenced the development of gambling problems. 

Therefore, cultural differences exist. 


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