You Can Tell By Age 3 Who Will Be A Gambler When They Grow Up

There might be a gambler in your family. And it isn’t who you think. It turns out, that by the time children are three years old, their temperaments are so developed that psychologists can now determine whether your toddler is a future gamester.  

University of Missouri’s Wendy Slutske and colleagues used data from a 30-year long study observing 939 individuals. Using 22 behavioural descriptors, the participating toddlers were separated into five temperament groups: under-controlled (10.4 per cent), inhibited (7.8 per cent), confident (27.5 per cent), reserved (14.8 per cent), and well-adjusted (39.6 per cent).

The children with undercontrolled temperament were more than twice as likely to gamble when 21 and 32 than other groups. These potential gamblers were described as restless, willful, impulsive, emotionally labile, impersistent, having fleeting attention, having expressed negativism, and withdrawing from tasks.

The report reasoned: “Perhaps it is the combination of impulsivity (or risk taking) in conjunction with the tendency toward negative emotions, such as anger, hostility, and anxiety, that constitutes the personality vulnerability for disordered gambling.” 

The men in this study were significantly more likely than women to report disordered gambling at age 32 – 6.4 per cent versus 1.9 per cent. 

Children temperament wendy slutske gambling

Photo: Psychological Science

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