The Biological Approach

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  • Initiation
  • the role of genetics
  • pathological gambling runs in families; due to genetics as well as environmental.
  • twin study found evidence of genetic transmission of gambling in men.
  • first degree relatives more likely to suffer from pathological gambling
  • Maintenance
  • The pituitary-adrenal system
  • gambling associated with underactive pituitary-adrenal response to gambling stimuli.
  • shown video of preferred gambling mode and neutral stimuli, recreational gamblers had increased salivary cortisol levels after both, pathological had no salivery increase in either.
  • Sensation-seeking
  • there are individual differences in the need for optimal amounts of stimulation. sensation seekrs look for varied or novel experiences. high sensation seekers have a lower appreciation risk and anticipate arousal as more positive than do low sensation seekers, more likely to gamble.
  • Relapse
  • Boredom Avoidance
  • pathological gambler needs this intense stimulation and excitement.
  • poor tolerance to boredom leads to repetitive gamblin behaviour. higher boredness proness.


  • Explaining Individual Differences
  • genetic explanations explain why some people develop pathological gambling and others do not. genetic predisposition creates a vulnerability; more resistant to treatment.
  • Ignores Environmental and situational factors
  • ignores the importance of external factors; accessiblity, incentives, provision of alcohol. 
  • product of biological factors and interaction between both environmental and genetic.
  • Explanatory Limitations of the Biological Approach
  • cannot exlplain why some types of gambling are more addictive than others
  • those hooked on video gambling became compulsive gamblers in a year opposed to betting on horses or sports which


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