Self-reported impulsivity and inhibitory control in problem gamblers

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2014;36(2):144-57. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2013.873773. Epub 2014 Jan 30.


Impulsivity is considered a core feature of problem gambling; however, self-reported impulsivity and inhibitory control may reflect disparate constructs. We examined self-reported impulsivity and inhibitory control in 39 treatment-seeking problem gamblers and 41 matched controls using a range of self-report questionnaires and laboratory inhibitory control tasks. We also investigated differences between treatment-seeking problem gamblers who prefer strategic (e.g., sports betting) and nonstrategic (e.g., electronic gaming machines) gambling activities. Treatment-seeking problem gamblers demonstrated elevated self-reported impulsivity, more go errors on the Stop Signal Task, and a lower gap score on the Random Number Generation task than matched controls. However, overall we did not find strong evidence that treatment-seeking problem gamblers are more impulsive on laboratory inhibitory control measures. Furthermore, strategic and nonstrategic problem gamblers did not differ from their respective controls on either self-reported impulsivity questionnaires or laboratory inhibitory control measures. Contrary to expectations, our results suggest that inhibitory dyscontrol may not be a key component for some treatment-seeking problem gamblers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / classification
  • Gambling / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Self Report