It’s All About Gains: Risk Preferences in Problem Gambling

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Abstract

Problem gambling is a serious socioeconomic problem involving high individual and social costs. In this article, we study risk preferences of problem gamblers including their risk attitudes in the gain and loss domains, their weighting of probabilities, and their degree of loss aversion. Our findings indicate that problem gamblers are systematically more risk taking and less sensitive toward changes in probabilities in the gain domain only. Neither their risk attitudes in the loss domain nor their degree of loss aversion are significantly different from the controls. Additional evidence for a similar degree of sensitivity toward negative outcomes is gained from skin conductance data—a psychophysiological marker for emotional arousal—in a threat-of-shock task.

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