Integrating gambling into theories of risky behaviors
Fortune, Erica Elise
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The present research aims to examine the relationship between gambling and other forms of risky behaviors, including risky sexual activity, delinquent behaviors, and substance use. Literature regarding theories of risky behaviors, namely Problem Behavior Theory and Gateway Theory, is reviewed in an effort to establish how well gambling is currently incorporated into these theories and to determine if and how gambling can be better integrated. Current findings related to gambling appear be limited due to certain methodological issues such as questionable measures of gambling, outdated data, and underrepresented samples, which are addressed in the present work. In Study 1 and Study 2, the present research works to substantiate covariance between gambling and other risky behaviors in first an adult-aged community sample (n=354) and then in an older-adolescent college sample (n=387). In Study 3, a timeline of these behaviors in an additional older-adolescent sample (n=570) is created in an effort to determine temporal precedence for the sample as a whole as well as for separate groups of gamblers and nongamblers. Findings suggest that both gamblers and nongamblers display a similar progression of problem behaviors, yet there are slight variations in the order of behaviors as well as the age of onset of certain behaviors. Additional findings of significance include the early appearance of gambling activity in the comprehensive timeline, occurring before almost all other activities, and the occurrence of alcohol use prior to, and more commonly than, tobacco use in both nongamblers and gamblers. Implications for the future integration of gambling into more comprehensive theories of risky behaviors are discussed.