Personality, Gender, and Gambling
 Janet Caron-Doell


 
 
 
Abstract Results
Acknowledgments Discussion
Method References

Abstract
Gambling in contemporary society is a huge enterprise which is wide-spread and affects not only adults, but teenagers as well.  Because of the ever-growing popularity of gambling, problems related to gambling have also risen, causing serious health and emotional issues due to the individual's lack of control.  Many studies have been done on gambling behavior, but many more issues need to be examined.  The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between personality style, gender differences, and attitudes and beliefs on gambling behavior.  The NEO-FFI (Costa & McCrae, 1992) questionnaire was used to evaluate impulsivity.  The Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) (Seligman, 1984) was used to assess optimism/pessimism.  The Gambling Attitude and Beliefs Survey (GABS) (Breen & Zuckerman, 1994) was used to evaluate cognitive processes, such as degree of arousal and irrational beliefs.  Participants also answered a customized questionnaire on frequency of gambling, the types of gambling that they enjoy, the age at which they first began to gamble, and how much they would be willing to wager in a game of "Texas Hold 'em" Poker if either given money to play, or if they used their own money.  Participants used for this study were 19 male and 20 female undergraduate college students.  It has been suggested that a person who is impulsive is more likely to gamble.  However, because only one participant scored high on impulsivity level, no relationship could be demonstrated.  The ASQ classified only 3 participants as moderately low pessimists, so it was not possible to show a relationship between optimism/pessimism and gambling.  Previous studies have shown that optimists gamble longer than a pessimist, view gambling more favorably, and see their losses as near-wins.  This study did show that males gamble more frequently than females, start at an earlier age, and prefer different types of gambling than females do.

Acknowledgments
    First and foremost, I would like to thank Professor McKenna for her wonderful insight and guidance through each process in the completion of my study.  Also, Professor Flannery, who patiently assisted me when I first began my research.  Another terrific person who has gone above and beyond her call to duty is Barbara Bartlett, who helped me in all the small details that were so important in this study.  Also thanks to my best friend Angie, who has not only struggled along with me for the past seven years to pursue a lifetime dream of a college degree, but was always there for me through thick and thin, encouraging me every step of the way.  Lastly, to my wonderful husband Bruce, who was always there for me.  Without his words of encouragement and his shoulder to cry on, I would never have made it this far. Everyone of you has been an inspiration to me.  Thank you!

Method
     The participants involved in this study were 39 college students who signed up to fulfill a requirement in their introductory psychology class at a small, Catholic, liberal arts college in the northeastern United States.  All participants were treated in accordance with the American Psychological Association's standard of ethical treatment of participants in research studies.  The participants all signed a consent form and were given a debriefing form at the conclusion of the research experiment.
     Participants were asked to fill out three questionnaires.  The NEO-five factor inventory (NEO-FFI) is a 60 item questionnaire with 12 item scales measuring each of the five major personality domains: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness.  The test is self administered, and each item is scored on a 0-5 point basis. The participants responded to each statement by indicating their level of agreement:  SD = Strongly disagree, D= Disagree, N= Neutral, A= Agree, and SA= Strongly agree.  Reliability, validity, and consistency are high for the NEO-FFI.  The main focus on this test was on the N, the E, and the C factors, as these show strong signs of a personality that is prone to impulsivity, according to Costa & McCrae, when high on the N and E factors, but low on the C factor. Time to complete was estimated at 10-15 minutes (Costa & McCrae, 1992).  Also at this time, participants were to complete the Gambling Attitude and Beliefs Survey (GABS; Breen & Zuckerman (1994), a 35 item choice instrument asking questions that focus on gambling.  Questions target cognitive factors in which responses are recorded on a four point scale ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree".  GABS items were constructed with a wide range of cognitive biases in mind, including irrational beliefs as well as positively valued attitudes to gambling.  Also, GABS inquires about the degree of subjective arousal and excitement that is experienced when gambling.  Higher GABS scores indicate that gambling is believed to be exciting and socially meaningful and that strategies (illusory ones also), as well as luck, are important.  The third questionnaire that each participant was asked to fill out was The Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ; Seligman, 1984). It is a self report measure of different attribution styles, 6 hypothetical questions of positive events, and 6 hypothetical questions of negative events, both involving achievement and affiliation.  Each question allows the participant to interpret the event and its probable cause.  Participants were asked to think of a cause for every event and to rate each one on a 7-point scale which measures dimensions of locus, stability, and globality.  High score on this questionnaire show more internal, global, and stable attributions, while lower scores show more unstable, external and specific attributions.  Each dimension is then averaged or summed out across the positive events, and then the negative events to arrive at an overall score for each type of event.  This test shows that optimists have low negative scores and high positive scores, while pessimists have high negative scores and low positive ones (Seliman, 1984). Each participant also was asked to fill out the Gambling Frequency, Preference, and Reason Survey, an instrument constructed to ask such questions as level of gambling, frequency and gaming preference, the age of onset of gambling, and if they would like to play in an upcoming psychology club event tournament of "Texas Hold 'em" poker, which is a very popular card game well-known among the college crowd.  The room was set up in a gambling atmosphere with cards and poker chips.  Then each participant was told that if they are given $25 each, how much they would be willing to gamble, if they had a chance to triple their winnings.  Also each participant was asked how much they would be willing to gamble with their own money, if they were chosen to be in a tournament in which the second place winner would win back the money they bought into the tournament and the winner takes the remainder of the pot.  The participant who wishes not to play could walk away with the $25 originally given to him if he was chosen to be in the game, but would rather not participate.

Results
     Each participant received a packet of questionnaires including the NEO-five factor inventory (NEO-FFI), the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ), the Gambling Attitudes and Beliefs Survey (GABS), and the Gambling Frequency, Preference, and Reason Survey (GFPRS).  Fourteen males and fifteen female college students participated for a total of N=29.  Each score on the NEO-FFI was tabulated, and the mean scores and the standard deviation for each of the following scales were as follows: N (Neuroticism) M= 42.345, SD = 8.037;  E (Extraversion) M= 55.965, SD = 9.186; O (Openness) M= 47.103, SD = 10.380; A (Agreeableness) M= 54.345, SD = 10.376; and C (Conscientiousness) M= 49.276, SD = 7.582.  Out of the N, E, and C scores, only one participant scored high on the N (61) and E (65) and low on the C (41), which is a measure of Impulsivity (high N and E but low C according to Costa & McCrae, 1992).  Because of this finding of only one participant with high impulsivity, it was not possible to examine the correlation between impulsivity and gambling.  Scores of the second questionnaire, the GABS, ranged from 35 (low) to 140 (high) with M= 80.241, and SD= 14.493.  When the GABS was correlated with each domain of the NEO-FFI, a significant correlation was found on the A domain (r = -.374, p = .046).  The other NEO domains showed no significant relationship with the GABS.  The ASQ questionnaire consists of a CoPos (6 positive events) and a CoNeg (6 negative events) which is combined to an overall score CPCN, which ranged from -18 to 18.  Scores from this sample ranged from -2 to 11, with M= 2.862, SD = 2.682.  Scores from this instrument were converted into two groups, those with <0 were grouped as optimists, and those with >0 were grouped as pessimists.  Unfortunately, only 3 participants fell into the pessimist group, so difficult to compare optimism level to gambling with such a small sample.  Scores on the Gambling Frequency, Preference, and Reason Survey showed a significant difference between males and females on frequency of game play (r = -.402, p = .031).  Also a significant gender difference was found on the classification of high/low gambler (r = -.455, p = .013).  This shows that males gamble more than females (total games, male M = 5.500, SD = 3.180;  female M = 3.067, SD = s.549.  The t-test on gender and the GABS show no significant difference.  This indicates that women and men did not differ significantly on attitudes and beliefs on gambling.  The age of onset of gambling ranged from 11-18, of which 4 of the 29 never gambled, with a M = 15.800, SD = 2.273.

Discussion
     The data indicated that there are gender differences in gambling behavior.  Males gamble more frequently than women, and prefer different types of gambling than women do.  The data obtained from the NEO-FFI questionnaire was insufficient to apply to this study because only one participant showed impulsivity, which is classified as high N (Neuroticism), high E (Extraversion), and low C (Conscientiousness) (Costa & McCrae, 1992).  The ASQ data was also difficult to apply to this study because only 3 participants showed moderate (and no participants were strongly pessimistic) pessimism.  Because of these factors, no significant differences were found on any of the variables included except for those involving gender.  When correlating the GABS with the various domains of the NEO-FFI, no significant correlation was found with any of the domains except, interestingly, the A (Agreeableness) domain.  A person high on the A domain is described as sympathetic, altruistic, helpful to others, and believe that others will equally return the help when needed.  A person very high on this domain may be egocentric, competitive, disagreeable, and skeptical of the intentions of others.  A significant negative correlation was found in which the higher the A domain, the lower the GABS score.  This means that the more agreeable and understanding a person is toward others, the less likely that person will have irrational beliefs and attitudes toward gambling.  More research could be done in the area of beliefs and attitudes of gambling with the A domain of the NEO-FFI with a larger sample of participants to extend the findings in this study.
     Because the participants were all Caucasian students from a small Catholic college in the northeast, and the sample size was small, results from this study may not be generalized to the general population.  A more diverse group of participants from different economic and social settings might have resulted in more varied responses.  For example, optimism was found to be high with most of the participants which may be due to the favorable conditions and attitudes of a young, education-seeking adult with the high possibility of a bright future.  Also, most students at this college seemed agreeable and well-disciplined, possibly due to being raised in families with strong moral values and coming from well-structured education backgrounds.  This would explain their interest more in continuing to receive a good education, and focusing their attention more on studying than expending valuable time on pursuing gambling behavior.
     When each participant was asked what would be the most likely reason they would gamble, 62% said they would gamble for fun/entertainment, 20% answered that they would gamble to win money, and 18% said they would gamble out of curiosity.  Four participants who answered that they would gamble out of curiosity said that they had never gambled.  A study done by Adebayo (1998) on a sample of students attending a rural community college in Canada showed that more than half the students surveyed gambled to win money, followed by gambling for fun/entertainment, then lastly, gambling out of curiosity.  The reason that these findings differ from each other is possibly because Adebayo used a much larger sample (N = 521), the age span used in his study was more wide-spread (M = 28, ages ranging from 17-62), and Adebayo used a more diverse sample of students instead of one from a small rural Catholic college.  This seems to suggest that overall, young students attending a small rural private college would gamble, not to make monetary gains, but for the sheer enjoyment of it.
     When participants were asked if they were given $25 in which to gamble for a chance to triple their winnings, how much of the $25 were they willing to gamble, 14% answered that they would gamble all of it, 55% said they would gamble some of it, and 31% said that they would walk away with the $25.  This shows that there is not much of a tendency toward problem gambling in this sample.
     A question was also asked on how much of their own money (choices were from 0-$100) that they were willing to bet if they had a chance to win the pot, the most frequent answer was $10 (31%).  Only one participant said he would bet the maximum of $100.  Four participants (14%) answered that they would not gamble any of their own money.  This shows that problem gambling is not a huge issue among the majority of students in this sample.
     Although gambling has been a major issue in today's society in reference to our youth being vulnerable and the ease to which they may gain access to different types of gambling, this does not seem to be the case at this college.  For Example, Orford (2003) pointed out in his study the alarming problem of the British government in allowing juveniles under the age of 18 to gamble.  In this country, we have seen the rise of internet gambling, in which anyone at any age, who has access to the computer, can easily play online bingo and win or lose money.  Also, the rise in popularity of television poker tournaments have found its way into homes, influencing weekly games of "Texas Hold's" Poker tournaments among young teenagers.  Maybe there is more of a social interaction with this new craze, as opposed to the fad of maybe 5 or more years ago, when a juvenile would spend hours playing a video game in solitude, rarely interacting with others.  Parents may prefer there children socializing with their peers, even though they may be exposing them to future problematic gambling behavior be allowing them to host week-end poker events in their own homes, as opposed to countless hours facing a violent video screen, with no social interaction.
     Although this study did not show problem gambling at this college, maybe because the majority of participants were freshmen, who on the most part need to spend most of their time adjusting to the rigorous demands of studying to succeed at this difficult college, they do not have time for many other activities.  My results may have been different if I had used upperclassmen, who possibly may have more of a social life due to learning how to balance school demands with outside interests, which may have included activities such as weekly, or even daily gambling behavior.  Future studies should be done on college students of all ages to see if there is a growing problem with young people and gambling, looking at the age of onset and the possibility of a relationship between these variables.

References
Adebayo, B. (1998). Luck of the dice: gambling attitudes of a sample of community college students. College Student
     Journal, 32(2).
Breen, R.B. & Zuckerman, M. (1994). The gambling beliefs and attitudes survey. Unpublished instrument: University of
     Delaware.
Costa, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (1992). NEOPI-R.  Odessa, Florida:  Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.
Orford, J. (2003). Why the British government is wrong to continue to allow juvenile gaming machine playing.  Addiction
     Research and Theory, 11(6).
Seligman, M. (1984). The Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ).

Any Questions or for a full copy of my thesis, please e-mail me at Jangc1@aol.com


Related links:   www.compusblues.com/gambling.asp
                      www.gamblingsolutions.net/                                      HomePage:www.anselm.edu/
                      www.alternet.org/story/12489