Nevada, Las Vegas - European Association for the Study of Gambling
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Nevada, Las Vegas - European Association for the Study of Gambling

Bo J. Bernhard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Director of Research, International Gaming Institute

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

What we “knew” historically…

We “knew” the answer to the question

“how do we diagnose people who gamble

too much” (Holp, 1887, p. 105)

We “knew” the diagnosis by name…

We knew about tolerance, escape,

and loss of control…

(Talmadge, 1872)

(Beecher, 1844)

(Mather, 1756)

We even knew about “treatment”

(Hopkins, 1835)

In light of this, we might wonder…

• How is our certitude

different from theirs

• Is our certitude better

than theirs

• What will our legacy be

• How do we know

Moving on to today…

• Globalization and the worldwide gaming


• Globalization and the worldwide gambling

research community

• Homogenization –and resistance

On research and globalization

• Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan’s summer

2010 salvo –a major challenge to psychology,

economics, and indeed, all of us

• Generalizability

WEIRD: Western, Educated,

Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic

Well congratulations…

• …on this “new discovery”

• But so what And why is this so different


• It turns out the implications for the gambling

research community are perhaps massive –

especially in 2010.

Henrich, et al’s s challenge:

• Everything we learned in Psychology 101 =


• Americans, Canadians, and Western

Europeans are WEIRD –and use very

different analytical strategies than non‐


• The Fundamental Attribution Error –a

“universal,” except for

• “And yet, much of cognitive psychology

emphasizes the centrality” of FAE

Ellen Langer, Psych 101,

and Endowment Theory


• …takes a hit as well –and with scenarios

(familiar to gambling researchers) that speak

to speculation and cognition

• When playing the “ultimatum game…”

• Wide ranging implications: economists have

used these experiments to set wagers and

develop third world policy

On gambling and universality…

Gambling is commonly thought of

as a “historical and cultural

universal” – all places, periods,

and peoples.

• But as Per Binde (2005) has shown


Perhaps not surprisingly…

• …the perils of globalization are familiar to

the gaming industry.

• MGM Not‐so‐grand Opening, 1994:

And the global gambling research

community also struggles at times…

• The South Korea lesson

• Canada, Australia: “Blow Up the Pokies”

• Asia: Why can’t we get anybody to play on

the pokies (Or drink)

So what might we do

• In 2010, neglecting the vital methodological

construct of generalizability is especially


The diversity of one’s N (not just on the

participant side!) becomes even more crucial.

Henrich, et al recommend: editors and funding

sources should seek out and reward those who


• “Inconvenient subject pools”

• Cross‐disciplinary and cross‐jurisdictional/cultural


So what might we do, part two

• The “bio‐psycho‐social” model –meant to

imply a comprehensive approach –in fact

stops too short.

• This is especially true when cross‐disciplinary,

and cross‐cultural thinking is a “now more

than ever” requirement.

• A bio‐psycho‐social‐sociological model

And why stop there

But this all seems so…

• …daunting.

• Or worse, politically correct.

• However…

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