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PLoS One. 2018 Jan 18;13(1):e0191110. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191110. eCollection 2018.

Cognitive distortions and gambling near-misses in Internet Gaming Disorder: A preliminary study.

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Research Center for Brain Function and Psychological Science, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China.
Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Affective and Social Cognitive Science, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China.
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Centre for Gambling Research at UBC, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Increased cognitive distortions (i.e. biased processing of chance, probability and skill) are a key psychopathological process in disordered gambling. The present study investigated state and trait aspects of cognitive distortions in 22 individuals with Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) and 22 healthy controls. Participants completed the Gambling Related Cognitions Scale as a trait measure of cognitive distortions, and played a slot machine task delivering wins, near-misses and full-misses. Ratings of pleasure ("liking") and motivation to play ("wanting") were taken following the different outcomes, and gambling persistence was measured after a mandatory phase. IGD was associated with elevated trait cognitive distortions, in particular skill-oriented cognitions. On the slot machine task, the IGD group showed increased "wanting" ratings compared with control participants, while the two groups did not differ regarding their "liking" of the game. The IGD group displayed increased persistence on the slot machine task. Near-miss outcomes did not elicit stronger motivation to play compared to full-miss outcomes overall, and there was no group difference on this measure. However, a near-miss position effect was observed, such that near-misses stopping before the payline were rated as more motivating than near-misses that stopped after the payline, and this differentiation was attenuated in the IGD group, suggesting possible counterfactual thinking deficits in this group. These data provide preliminary evidence for increased incentive motivation and cognitive distortions in IGD, at least in the context of a chance-based gambling environment.

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