Behavioral Accounts and Treatments of Problem Gambling

Essay by gal_213University, Bachelor's October 2006

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Most people gamble at one time or another. Many people have a positive attitude towards gambling and do not experience any problems. However, for some people gambling can become a problem. It can seriously affect many aspects of an individual's life. Gambling can also affect family members, friends and careers. This essay will demonstrate the relationship between the operant learning theory by B. F. Skinner and problem gambling. Also it is going to examine and compare different treatments.

Behavioral Accounts and Treatments of Problem Gambling

Research done by the State Government of Victoria (2004) has described the clients attending Gambler's Help problem gambling counseling services during the period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002. The report shows that a total of 4,461 new clients registered between 1 July 2001 and 30 June 2002, representing an increase of 18.3 per cent for women problem gamblers and 9.4 per cent for men problem gamblers compared with 2000-01 figures.

On the other hand, it is very common for losses to be chased (80 per cent), that is, to continue to gamble after losing in the belief that a win is due or to recoup the losses. In addition, more than for out of five (83 per cent) of the new client problem gamblers have repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, attempted to control or stop their gambling. Lastly, more than one in four (23 per cent) of all new client problem gamblers reported four or less of the maladaptive behaviors, that is, they do not satisfy the diagnostic criteria for 'pathological gambling' (DSM IV).

In the perspectives of psychology, these problem behaviors can be understood by studying the operant learning theory by B.F. Skinner. In this theory, it explains how behaviors develop and the ways to keep, remove or modified them. But how would...