Psychological Factors that Promote and Inhibit Pathological Gambling

Benjamin J. Morasco, Jeremiah Weinstock, David M. Ledgerwood, Nancy M. Petry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


This paper describes qualitative data regarding psychological factors that may affect gambling behavior among treatment-seeking pathological gamblers. Participants (n = 84) diagnosed with pathological gambling were treated in a clinical trial examining the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Qualitative data were collected from participants during each of 8 structured CBT sessions. Specific gambling-related psychological factors that were assessed include triggers, consequences, high-risk situations, craving experiences, assertiveness skills, cognitive distortions, and coping strategies. The most commonly reported triggers for gambling were lack of structured time and negative emotional state, which were similar to the high-risk times for gambling. The most frequently listed positive consequences of gambling were enjoyment associated with winning and use of gambling as an escape. Negative consequences of gambling included depressed mood, financial problems, and conflict with family. Coping strategies changed during treatment, as participants reported relying less upon avoidance and distraction, and became better able to utilize support networks and cognitive coping skills. These data are important to better understand the factors associated with the development, maintenance, and cessation of pathological gambling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-217
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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