The Cognitive Approach

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  • Initation: Self-Medication
  • individuals intentionally use different forms of pathological behaviour to treat their psycholgoical symptons that they suffer from.
  • Gambling may be used to deal with difficulties such as poverty, and will not make things better
  • Maintenance: The role of Irrational Beliefs
  • Problem gamblers frequenctly have irrational perceptions about their ability to infleunce the outcomes of their gambling. 
  • Cognitive distortions associated with gambling include the 'gambler's fallacy' : completely random events are influenced by recent events. 
  • Illusions of control are deomnstrated through the performance of superstititious behaviours, which the gambler believes helps them to manipulate the event outcome in their favour. 
  • May also show an exaggerated self-confidence in their ability to beat the system.
  • attributes to bility of skill and failure attributed to change factors; bad luck
  • Relapse: Reclal bias and the 'just world' hypothesis
  • OFten suffer from recall bias, forgetting about losses. 
  • string of losses does not combat hope, eventually will be rewarded for efforts as they deserve to win.


  • Research Support
  • research support for the self medication model. 
  • pathological gambles gambling for plleasure were more likely to have other substancies dependance issues. 
  • self-medicating gamblers were less likely to commit crimes to finance their addiction 
  • Pathological gamblers motivated by self medication have substitute means to satisfy their goals, those gambling for pure pleasure do not. 
  • Non-supporting research
  • research suggests that possessing relevant knowledge does not make people less susceptible to cognitive distortions. 
  • pathological gamblers more irrational in some forms of gambling


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