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  • Author or Editor: Alexander Blaszczynski x
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This commentary supports the argument that there is an increasing tendency to subsume a range of excessive daily behaviors under the rubric of non-substance related behavioral addictions. The concept of behavioral addictions gained momentum in the 1990s with the recent reclassification of pathological gambling as a non-substance behavioral addiction in DSM-5 accelerating this process. The propensity to label a host of normal behaviors carried out to excess as pathological based simply on phenomenological similarities to addictive disorders will ultimately undermine the credibility of behavioral addiction as a valid construct. From a scientific perspective, anecdotal observation followed by the subsequent modification of the wording of existing substance dependence diagnostic criteria, and then searching for biopsychosocial correlates to justify classifying an excessive behavior resulting in harm as an addiction falls far short of accepted taxonomic standards. The differentiation of normal from non-substance addictive behaviors ought to be grounded in sound conceptual, theoretical and empirical methodologies. There are other more parsimonious explanations accounting for such behaviors. Consideration needs to be given to excluding the possibility that excessive behaviors are due to situational environmental/social factors, or symptomatic of an existing affective disorder such as depression or personality traits characteristic of cluster B personalities (namely, impulsivity) rather than the advocating for the establishment of new disorders.

Open access


Background and aims

Harmful gambling has been associated with the endorsement of fallacious cognitions that promote excessive consumption. These types of beliefs stem from intuitively derived assumptions about gambling that are fostered by fast-thinking and a lack of objective, critical thought. The current paper details an experiment designed to test whether a four-week online intervention to strengthen contextual analytical thinking in gamblers is effective in changing gamblers cognitions and encouraging safer gambling consumption.


Ninety-four regular gamblers who reported experiencing gambling-related harm were randomly allocated to either an experimental (n = 46) or control condition (n = 48), including 45 males, ranging from 19 to 65 years of age (M = 36.61; SD = 9.76). Following baseline measurement of gambling beliefs and prior week gambling consumption, participants in the experimental condition were required to complete an adaption of the Gamblers Fallacy Questionnaire designed to promote analytical thinking by educating participants on common judgement errors specific to gambling once a week for four weeks. Post-intervention measures of beliefs and gambling consumption were captured in week five.


The experimental condition reported significantly fewer erroneous cognitions, greater endorsement of protective cognitions, and reduced time spent gambling post-intervention compared to baseline. The control group also reported a reduction in cognitions relating to predicting and controlling gambling outcomes.


Cognitive interventions that encourage gamblers to challenge gambling beliefs by reflecting on gambling involvement and promoting critical thinking may be an effective tool for reducing the time people invest in gambling activities.

Open access