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Title: Inhibitory control, reinforcement and personality : implications for gambling behaviour
Author: Thompson, Stephen John
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis presents studies investigating interrelated aspects of inhibitory control, reinforcement, personality and gambling behaviour. Inhibitory control was measured on various different behavioural tasks including stop-signal tasks with different reinforcement contingencies, computerised gambling tasks (i.e., card perseveration (CP) tasks and slot machine simulations), and the Q-task. Associations between self-reported sensitivity to reward/punishment (i.e., personality) and inhibition on these tasks were investigated since it was anticipated that performance might be related to, and, therefore, explained in terms of, constructs of the Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) (and related theories) of personality. Finally, inhibitory control and personality in pathological gamblers was investigated due to the potential of RST, and related theories, in throwing new light upon the disinhibited behaviour characterised by pathological gambling (PG). Results demonstrated that inhibitory control on the stop-signal task can be modified using different response contingencies. Evidence was produced to suggest that self-reported personality was associated with performance on each of the behavioural tasks employed. However, evidence was also produced indicating the importance of assessing reinforcement expectancies in relation to behavioural tasks in order to produce theoretically consistent relationships between presumed appetitive/aversive situations and self-reported sensitivity to reward/punishment. Results indicated that although pathological gamblers (vs. non-problem gambling controls) did not demonstrate impaired inhibitory control on the stop-signal task or less inhibition on the Q-task, their response inhibition was differentially effected by the presence of different reinforcement contingencies on the stop-signal task; and, in addition, the PG group demonstrated greater response perseveration on the CP task and across slot machine simulations. Other findings include pathological gamblers' (as well as controls') response perseveration shown to be reduced on the CP task by imposing a 5-s forced pause following response feedback - a finding discussed as having potentially valuable implications for informing practice in the treatment of PG - and the revelation that PG participants scored higher (vs. controls) on self-report measures of Gray's BIS, BAS and FFFS, indicating that pathological gamblers were hyper-sensitive to reward as well as to punishment - a finding discussed within the context of Corr's (2009) and McNaughton and Corr's (2009) recent alternative explanation for the development and maintenance of PG based on the concept of 'relief of non-punishment'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available