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Cognitive abilities, non-cognitive skills, and gambling behaviors


  • Gong, Xiaodong
  • Zhu, Rong


This paper examines the effects of cognitive abilities and non-cognitive skills on gambling behaviors in Australia. We use the scores for three cognitive functioning tasks as measures of cognitive abilities. Locus of control and the Big Five personality traits are used as measures of non-cognitive skills. We find that cognitive abilities affect both gambling participation and problem gambling. While locus of control does not affect people’s participation in gambling, gambling participants with strong internal locus of control are less likely to become a problem gambler than those with external locus of control. We also show that personality traits are important factors for both gambling participation and problem gambling. There is also evidence that both cognitive and non-cognitive skills affect gamblers’ choice between skill-and-chance gambling and pure-chance gambling. Our findings seem to support the view that market imperfection could at least explain some individuals’ participation in gambling.

Suggested Citation

  • Gong, Xiaodong & Zhu, Rong, 2019. "Cognitive abilities, non-cognitive skills, and gambling behaviors," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 51-69.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:165:y:2019:i:c:p:51-69
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.06.016

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    More about this item


    Cognitive abilities; Locus of control; Personality traits; Gambling behaviors;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


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