"Baby needs a new pair of shoes!" New Study on Kids and Gambling

Josh Clark

Having been a kid for a little while, I think I'm qualified to speak on how squirrelly they are. I can tell you that kids may eat scratch-and-sniff stickers that have laid on the ground for awhile. They also may cross streams with other weird kids in the bathroom, should a film like, say, Ghostbusters sweep the nation. Kids might take very seriously ninja training administered by an older kid in the neighborhood and spend all available money on throwing stars.

A lot of this odd behavior can be chalked up to impulsiveness. This isn't just my explanation; psychologists have noticed too. Back in 1959, D.E. Barratt created the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale to measure impulsive behavior. The BIS is a 30-item survey with statements like "I 'squirm' at plays or lectures" and four levels of agreement. Tallied, the answers give a consistently clear picture of an individual's impulsiveness.

One aspect of impulsiveness is lack of attentiveness, and Reuters reports some Canadian researchers at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital and Research Centre wondered if this might be behind gambling behavior in later years. Could be.

Their study followed 163 kindergarten students, who were rated for impulsiveness by their teachers six years ago. Recently, the kids in the study were contacted and asked about how much they love to roll the bones and play bingo and place wagers. The group found that a one point increase in impulsiveness on the BIS correlated with a 25 percent increase in gambling habits in the kids in the study.

We've known for a couple years that pharmaceuticals used to treat restless leg syndrome can create impulsive gambling behavior in people with no history of gambling. The Canadian study, however, might shed some new light on where adolescent gambling comes from, a longstanding mystery in the field of child psychology. It may also lead to a complete eradication of aspiring ninjas.

Head on over to HSW for some more related articles:

Top 10 Weirdest Prescription Drug Side Effects How Online Gambling Works Are depressed people more prone to addiction -- and why?