Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 95 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Edelgard Wulfert

Committee Members

Robert Rosellini, Mitch Earleywine


Availability, Cue Reactivity, Gambling, Compulsive gambling, Psychophysiology

Subject Categories



For regular gamblers, physiological arousal and subjective excitement are known to occur in response to gambling-related cues. The present study seeks to use a cue exposure paradigm to explore two factors related to cue reactivity in gambling. The first is to examine the utility of a behavioral economics measure of cue reactivity. The second goal is to explore the effects of beliefs about the availability of gambling on cue reactivity. In the current study, regular lottery ticket scratch-off gamblers were exposed to both a gambling cue (a scratch-off ticket and coin) and a control cue (paper and marker). Cue reactivity was assessed via measurements of heart rate and skin conductance, as well as subjective reports of excitement and craving. In addition to these standard cue reactivity measures, we included a behavioral economics measure of the relative reinforcing value of gambling. As a second manipulation, participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions intended to examine how the opportunity to gamble as part of the research study affects cue reactivity in gamblers. One group was offered the opportunity to gamble during the course of study paradigm, while the other group was not. Participants demonstrated higher heart rate, excitement and urge to gamble in response to the gambling cue compared to the control cue. We did not find the expected effect of cue on the behavioral economics assessment. In addition, there was limited evidence for the effect of gambling availability on cue reactivity. However, for participants who chose to gamble, the amount of gambling the participants engaged in was significantly related to their reports on the behavioral economics measures of gambling. These results suggest that behavioral economics measures may have some utility for assessing motivation to gamble. Implications for treatment and future research are discussed.

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