Worldwide, 2% of adults and 5% of youths meet clinical criteria for pathological gambling and twice as many people encounter some type of gambling-related harm such as homelessness, bankruptcy, incarceration or suicide. These consequences make the continued knowledge development regarding the antecedents of problem gambling behavior imperative, especially when considering the recent proliferation of casinos throughout North America. James Lister is a doctoral candidate from Rutgers University who specializes in motivation and decision making among recreational and problem gamblers. His Fulbright exchange allowed him to experience both an American and a Canadian perspective on gambling. Before obtaining his Fulbright, he received mentorship from Dr. Lia Nower, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers. His Fulbright brought him to Ottawa; to the Carleton University Gambling Lab (CUGL) where he is now investigating factors contributing to gambling disorder vulnerability with Dr. Michael Wohl.
Lister chose to study with Dr. Wohl for two reasons, namely because Dr. Wohl is a senior researcher in psychology who is investigating factors that prevent gamblers from seeking treatment; and because of the unique aspects of the Carleton University Gambling Lab. The CUGL houses computer-based virtual casinos allowing participants to gamble like they would in real-life casinos. This allows Dr. Wohl and David Lister to study the psychological processes related to slot machine play.
The project investigates cognitive, motivational, and emotional factors that may influence risky forms of slot machine play. A portion of the data related to gambling motivations and decisions will serve as the basis of Lister’s dissertation, while other portions will be written up collaboratively for publication. Data collection is estimated to be finished by the end of the academic year, after which Lister will begin analyzing the findings. In addition to this project, Lister will be part of a collaborative presentation this spring at one of the preeminent Canadian gambling conferences in Banff, Alberta. Lister plans to extend his Canadian residence beyond the grant period, to work through the summer on other projects taking place at the Carleton University Gambling Lab.
Carleton University Gambling Lab
Center for Gambling Studies (Rutgers)