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High hope and problem gambling

A recent study conducted at the University of Western Sydney has revealed that having high levels of hope may have a downside. In relation to gambling, the research has revealed that problem gamblers have higher and more enduring levels of hope that they will win, compared to other people.

Dr Boyer, the author of this study, commented on the findings by saying ?It is this persistently high hope that clouds their judgment and leads to impairment of self-control?.  Previous research has shown that problem gamblers may have an inflated sense of winning or illusions of control.  This study shows that gamblers do know the odds as well as the financial implications of losing, despite this; the small chance of winning translates into high hope for them, which makes it irrational to stop feeding money into the machine.  Dr Boyer explains that ?this may be why the warning labels on poker machines which state the unlikelihood of winning are ineffective as a preventative measure? and 'At best, these labels may deter non-problem gamblers who have lower and less pervasive hopes of winning. At worst, they may in fact inadvertently promote hope by reminding gamblers of the ongoing possibility of winning.'

These findings are important for our understanding of problem gambling. Hope is a vital and important construct within Positive Psychology.  For example, high hope has been shown to be beneficial in areas such as academic success, conquering fears, overcoming trauma, athletic performance and overcoming eating disorders.  This study is important because it highlights the fact that ?one size does not fit all?.  High hope may have downsides.  To read this article click here

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