Numerous studies have shown that problem gambling is characterised by lack of impulse control. However, they have often been conducted without considering the multifaceted nature of impulsivity and related psychological mechanisms. The current study aims to disentangle which impulsivity facets are altered in pathological gambling. Twenty treatment-seeking pathological gamblers (PGs) and 20 matched control participants completed a self-reported questionnaire measuring the various facets of impulsive behaviours (UPPS Impulsive Behaviour Scale), as well as two laboratory tasks assessing inhibitory control (the go-stop task) and tolerance for delayed rewards (single key impulsivity paradigm). Compared with matched controls, PGs exhibited higher urgency, lower premeditation, impairment in prepotent inhibition, and lower tolerance towards delayed rewards. Nevertheless, complementary profile analyses showed that impulsivity-related deficits found in PGs are highly heterogeneous, and that some PGs are neither impulsive in the impulsivity facets assessed nor impaired in the cognitive mechanisms measured. These findings underscore (1) the necessity to disentangle the construct of impulsivity into lower-order components and (2) that further studies should take into account, in addition to impulsivity-related mechanisms, other psychological factors potentially involved in pathological gambling.
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