© 2017 Background Impulsivity is understood to be a multidimensional construct involving aspects such as impulsive choice and impulsive traits. Delay discounting, the tendency to place greater value in immediate rewards over larger, long-term rewards, has been associated with maladaptive choices in gambling disorder (GD). Delay discounting is known to evolve with age; though no study to date has evaluated the interactions between impulsivity, GD severity and age in treatment-seeking patients. Objectives We aimed to examine whether associations between delay discounting and impulsivity traits differed between younger and older-aged GD patients. Secondly, we sought to untangle the mediating role of impulsivity in determining gambling behavior in these two age groups. Methods GD patients (N = 335) were evaluated using the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale and a delay discounting task. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to explore associations between impulsivity measures and gambling severity in young (18–30 years) and old (31–70) GD patients. Results No differences in delay discounting were found between young and old GD patients. Significant correlations between delay discounting and urgency levels (the tendency to act rashly under emotional states) were identified only in the young GD group. Path analyses also revealed both positive and negative urgency to be a mediator of GD severity levels in young GD patients. Discussion and conclusions Significant associations between impulsive choice and positive urgency are only present in young gamblers, suggesting that positive urgency influence choice behavior to a greater degree at younger ages. Implications for targeted interventions are discussed.
- Delay discounting
- Gambling disorder