Gambling-Related Cognition Scale (GRCS): Are Skills-Based Games at a Disadvantage?

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The Gambling-Related Cognition Scale (GRCS; Raylu & Oei, 2004) was developed to evaluate gambling-related cognitive distortions for all types of gamblers, regardless of their gambling activities (poker, slot machine, etc.). It is therefore imperative to ascertain the validity of its interpretation across different types of gamblers; however, some skills-related items endorsed by players could be interpreted as a cognitive distortion despite the fact that they play skills-related games. Using an intergroup (168 poker players and 73 video lottery terminal [VLT] players) differential item functioning (DIF) analysis, this study examined the possible manifestation of item biases associated with the GRCS. DIF was analyzed with ordinal logistic regressions (OLRs) and Ramsay’s (1991) nonparametric kernel smoothing approach with TestGraf. Results show that half of the items display at least moderate DIF between groups and, depending on the type of analysis used, 3 to 7 items displayed large DIF. The 5 items with the most DIF were more significantly endorsed by poker players (uniform DIF) and were all related to skills, knowledge, learning, or probabilities. Poker players’ interpretations of some skills-related items may lead to an overestimation of their cognitive distortions due to their total score increased by measurement artifact. Findings indicate that the current structure of the GRCS contains potential biases to be considered when poker players are surveyed. The present study conveys new and important information on bias issues to ponder carefully before using and interpreting the GRCS and other similar wide-range instruments with poker players.

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