TUESDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- Preschoolers who are
impulsive, restless, moody and inattentive are twice as likely as
other kids to have a gambling problem in adulthood, according to a
Researchers from the University of Missouri, Duke University and
University College London said their findings are important
considering "the ever-increasing number of [gambling] temptations
our world presents," such as the constant ability to gamble on the
In conducting the study, the researchers analyzed information on
1,037 children, aged 3 years, who participated in a New Zealand
Health and Development study. After a 90-minute assessment, the
children were grouped into one of five categories: under-controlled
(those who were more negative, restless and had trouble controlling
their emotions); inhibited; confident; reserved; or
The researchers questioned 939 of the children about their
gambling behavior when they reached 21 and 32 years of age. At 21
years old, 86 percent of the participants had gambled, and 13
percent of them could be considered problem or compulsive gamblers.
By the age of 32, about 4 percent of the participants still had
problems with gambling that interfered with their financial,
personal life or career.
The study also revealed that men had gambling problems more
often than women. Those with low childhood intelligence and
socioeconomic status were also at greater risk for compulsive
gambling. After taking these contributing factors into account,
however, the study authors pointed out that impulsivity and
inattentiveness as a preschooler was a significant predictor of
compulsive gambling as an adult.
The study, released online in advance of publication in an
upcoming print issue of
Psychological Science, is the first to establish a link between impulsivity in children and later compulsive gambling, noted psychologist Wendy Slutske of the University of Missouri and colleagues, in a news release from the Association for Psychological Science.
The study authors added that their findings may extend beyond
gambling. Boosting children's self-confidence and teaching them
about patience and self-control could increase the likelihood that
they will be happy and enjoy financial and academic success, they
suggested. "It fits into a larger story about how self-control in
early childhood is related to important life outcomes in
adulthood," Slutske concluded in the news release.
The Nemours Foundation has more about