Term of Award

Summer 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Ty W. Boyer

Committee Member 1

Jeffrey Klibert

Committee Member 2

Lindsay Larson


Gambling behavior is maintained by cognitive biases (Ladouceur & Walker, 1996; Sharpe, 2002) which stem from an automatic level of thinking, referred to as System 1 (Kahneman, 2011). System 2 thinking is more deliberative than System 1, but requires more cognitive effort. System 2 is only activated when necessary. Positive affect increases reliance on System 1, often leading to an increase in risky behavior. Negative affect increases reliance on System 2, often leading to a decrease in risky behavior. Researchers argue that mandatory warning messages should be implemented in gambling venues to caution patrons against the dangers of problem gambling (Blaszczynski, Ladouceur, & Shaffer, 2004; Ginley, Whelan, Pfund, Peter, & Meyers, 2017; Steenbergh, Whelan, Meyers, May, & Floyd, 2004). Pop-up warning messages (Monaghan & Blaszczynski, 2010) containing information meant to correct gambling-related cognitive biases (Ginley et al., 2017) are most effective. The current study sought to bridge a gap between the literature on gambling warning messages and literature on the effect of affect on risky decision-making. If a case is to be made for implementing mandatory gambling warning messages, it is important to examine if the effectiveness of warning messages is modulated by affect. Participants were randomly assigned to be induced with either positive or negative affect, and to either receive gambling warning messages or not receive gambling warning messages. It was hypothesized that those induced with positive affect would have higher levels of risk-taking than those induced with negative affect. It was also hypothesized that there would be an interaction effect between affect condition and warning message condition. Results showed that there was not a significant difference in risk-taking behavior between those who received warning messages and those who did not receive warning messages. There was a trend towards a significant difference based on affect condition, in that those induced with negative affect had slightly higher levels of risk-taking than those induced with positive affect. No significant interaction effects were detected.

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