Cognitive Approach Applied to Gambling and Smoking - Psychology A Unit 4 Edexcel

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Cognitive Approach applied to gambling and smoking
Cognitive explanations may be limited to specific addictions, may have less of an effect in chemical
addictions such as Heroin but better in understanding gambling
Davies, 1992: difficult to find conclusive results as addicts describe their behaviours differently depending
on who they are talking to, making findings lack reliability
Initiation ­ Self-medication model ­ Gelkopf et al, 2002: proposes that individuals intentionally use different forms
of pathological behaviour to treat psychological symptoms from which they suffer. The particular activity an addict
chooses tends to be one that is perceived as helping a particular problem (e.g. gambling helps with
depression/poverty). Gambling might not actually make things better but needs only to be judged as doing so by the
individual to become an addiction, which is an irrational thought.
Li et al, 2008: pathological gamblers who gambled to escape the reality of life were significantly more likely
to have other substance dependencies than pathological gamblers who gambled for pleasure were
Problems of cause and effect: self-medication model predicts that distress must precede addiction,
however, it is equally possible that depression could be an effect, i.e. a consequence of the personal and
financial costs of pathological gambling
Maintenance ­ problem gamblers frequently have irrational perceptions about their ability to influence the
outcomes of their gambling, despite the probability of failure associated to games of chance.
Oei and Gordon, 2008: cognitive distortions or irrational beliefs play a role in the maintenance of
pathological gambling specifically, e.g. gamblers think random events like a coin toss can be predicted by
previous events. They have an exaggerated self confidence in beating the system
Giarelli et al, 2004: Smokers have dysfunctional beliefs about the benefits of smoking
Delfabbro and Winefield, 1999: 75% of game-related thoughts during gambling were irrational and
encouraged further risk taking
Research suggests that many gamblers are on `auto-pilot' during activity, suggesting that cognitive factors
don't play a large role in maintaining gambling
Relapse ­ `just world' hypothesis ­ a string of losses doesn't act as a disincentive for gamblers to return in the future
because of a belief that they `deserve' to win, having lost on so many previous occasions
Blanco et al, 2000: recall bias ­ gamblers have a tendency to remember and overestimate wins, whilst
forgetting, underestimating or rationalising losses
Initiation ­ expectancy theory ­ addicts differ from non-addicts in terms of their expectancies about the positive
versus the negative effects of their behaviour. Brandon et al, 1999: behaviour escalates to addiction due to the
expectation about the costs and benefits of the activity.
Kassel et al, 2007: adolescents commonly report that they started to smoke during a period of time in which
they experienced negative moods
Brandon and Baker, 1991: (cont.) they then expect that smoking will decrease the intensity of their mood
Mermelstein et al, 2009: the expectancy of positive mood states has been shown to be a key reason in
adolescents beginning to smoke
Age bias ­ results cannot explain how cognitive factors may effect initiation of smoking in the wider
population, as research focuses on adolescent habits, which could also have been influenced by hormonal
changes that occur during this age
Research into expectancy theories mainly focus on excessive smokers, but not necessarily those who feel a
`loss of control' (i.e. an addiction). Therefore, it is not clear what role expectancies might play in the
development of loss of control
Maintenance ­ Brandon et al, 1999: as an addiction develops, the activity is influenced less by conscious
expectancies, and more by unconscious expectancies involving automatic processing, which would explain the loss of
control many addicts experience in their addictive behaviour, and the difficulties they experience in abstinence

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Tate et al, 1994: told smokers that they would expect no negative experiences during a period of
abstinence, which in turn led to fewer reported somatic and psychological effects than those who were not
so well-informed.…read more


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