Motivational profiles of gambling behavior: self-determination theory, gambling motives, and gambling behavior

Lindsey M. Rodriguez*, Clayton Neighbors, Dipali V. Rinker, Jennifer L. Tackett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Gambling among young adults occurs at a higher rate than in the general population and is associated with a host of negative consequences. Self-determination theory (SDT) posits that individuals develop general motivational orientations which predict a range of behavioral outcomes. An autonomy orientation portrays a choiceful perspective facilitating personal growth, whereas a controlled orientation represents a chronic proclivity toward external pressures and a general lack of choice. Further, an impersonal orientation is characterized by alack of intention and feeling despondent and ineffective. Controlled orientation has previously been associated with more frequent and problematic gambling. This research was designed to examine gambling motives as mediators of associations between motivational orientations and gambling behaviors. Undergraduates (N = 252) who met 2+ criteria on the South Oaks Gambling Screen participated in a laboratory survey assessing their motivational orientations, gambling motives, and gambling behavior (quantity, frequency, and problems). Mediation analyses suggested that autonomy was negatively associated with gambling problems through lower levels of chasing and escape motives. Further, controlled orientation was associated with more problems through higher levels of chasing and interest motives. Finally, impersonal orientation was negatively associated with amount won through escape motives. Overall, results support exploring gambling behavior and motives using a SDT framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1597-1615
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 17 2014


  • College students
  • Gambling motives
  • Motivational orientation
  • Self-determination theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)


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