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Gambling Motivation of Individuals Who Gamble Pathologically

Cynthia Carruthers, Laurie Platz, James Busser


The purpose of this study was to understand the motivation to gamble among pathological gamblers. Using Self-Determination Theory as a conceptual framework, the study explored the motivations of 58 university students who gamble pathologically to participate in their favorite leisure activity and their favorite gambling activity. A paired- sample t-test analysis was used to examine differences between pathological gamblers' leisure and gambling activities. The results indicated that there were significant differences in motivations to participate in gambling activities and other leisure activities. Within subjects repeated measures MANOVA was used to investigate differences in the types of motivation for gambling activity and recreation activity independently. Specifically, in order of reported importance, participation in gambling was characterized by amotivation, extrinsic motivation, and intrinsic motivation. In order of reported importance, participation in leisure activities was characterized by intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation. The results indicate that pathological gamblers do not experience gambling primarily as an intrinsically motivated leisure experience. Implications for therapeutic recreation practice and future research are discussed.


Pathological gambling, self-determination theory, therapeutic recreation

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