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Behav Processes. 2003 Oct 31;64(3):345-354.

Pathological gambling severity is associated with impulsivity in a delay discounting procedure.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Avenue, 06030-3944, Farmington, CT, USA


Research and clinical expertise indicates that impulsivity is an underlying feature of pathological gambling. This study examined the extent to which impulsive behavior, defined by the rate of discounting delayed monetary rewards, varies with pathological gambling severity, assessed by the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). Sixty-two pathological gamblers completed a delay discounting task, the SOGS, the Eysenck impulsivity scale, the Addiction Severity Index (ASI), and questions about gambling and substance use at intake to outpatient treatment for pathological gambling. In the delay discounting task, participants chose between a large delayed reward (US $1000) and smaller more immediate rewards (US $1-$999) across a range of delays (6h to 25 years). The rate at which the delayed reward was discounted (k value) was derived for each participant and linear regression was used to identify the variables that predicted k values. Age, gender, years of education, substance abuse treatment history, and cigarette smoking history failed to significantly predict k values. Scores on the Eysenck impulsivity scale and the SOGS both accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in k values. The predictive value of the SOGS was 1.4 times that of the Eysenck scale. These results indicate that of the measures tested, gambling severity was the best single predictor of impulsive behavior in a delay discounting task in this sample of pathological gamblers.

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