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2nd September 2014, 9:06am
Why do we gamble? Psychologist to lead new research centre examining gambling’s appeal and problems
Roulette wheel A psychologist specialising in the study of why people gamble will lead a new research centre dedicated to examining the topic at the University of Lincoln, UK.

Dr Amanda Roberts has joined Lincoln’s School of Psychology from the University of East London (UEL) as a Reader in Psychology.

She will head a new research centre focussed on understanding the psychological causes and effects of gambling, including addictive gambling, risk taking behaviour, treatment programmes and the impact of new technologies such as betting smartphone apps.  

According to a report by the Gambling Commission in 2010, 73 per cent of the UK adult population (aged 16 and over) participate in some form of gambling, equating to around 35.5 million adults. The number of gamblers in the UK is believed to be growing.

Dr Roberts will bring with her an ongoing research project evaluating 40 years of data on treatment offered by The Gordon Moody Foundation, a UK charity which offers residential treatment programmes to addicted gamblers. The study will assess how different length treatment programmes affect behaviour. She will continue to collaborate with colleagues at UEL on the project, with grant applications and writing papers. Dr Roberts’ former UEL colleagues will also peer review future work and offer their expertise in addictions.

Dr Roberts, who completed a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience at Cardiff University before working at Kings College London, Queen Mary University and UEL, said: “My move to the University of Lincoln is an exciting one. The launch of the research centre will give us the opportunity to better explore the reasons why people gamble.

“There is no consensus on the most effective way to treat gambling, largely because treatment research is so scarce.

“Additionally, treatment facilities which primarily rehabilitate problem gamblers are very limited; in the UK, the NHS does not provide treatment facilities, unless the individual has other disorders they might need treatment for.

“The Gordon Moody Association study is exploring a range of individual client characteristics including severity of dependence at admission, age, employment/income, psychological health and the types of gambling they partake in.”

The new research centre aims to develop new avenues of research to inform the work of support organisations such as the Responsible Gambling Trust, Gamblers Anonymous, GamCare, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, NHS Trusts and other private and public agencies in the UK and abroad.

Dr Roberts also brings expertise in other research areas, including risk factors for antisocial behaviour, addiction, violence, smoking and extensive pornography use.

Professor Timothy Hodgson, Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, said: “I am delighted to welcome such an experienced researcher in the field of mental health, offending behaviour and addiction. She is also an outstanding teacher and lifetime fellow of the Higher Education Academy who will further enhance our excellent undergraduate and post-graduate teaching in clinical and forensic psychology.

“As well as working with our team to establish a multi-disciplinary research centre to study gambling behaviour and pathological gambling addiction, Dr Roberts will also be a key member of the Forensic and Clinical Research Group.”

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