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March 2, 2009

Predicting Gambling Behavior in Sixth Grade From Kindergarten Impulsivity: A Tale of Developmental Continuity

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: École de Psychoéducation and Centre de Recherche de l’Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal (Dr Pagani), Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, McGill University (Dr Derevensky), and Département d’Éducation et Formation Spécialisée, Université du Québec à Montréal (Dr Japel), Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(3):238-243. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.7

Objective  To examine the relationship between early impulsive behavior, rated by kindergarten teachers, and self-reported gambling in sixth grade.

Design  Prospective longitudinal study.

Setting  The 1999 kindergarten cohort of the Montreal Longitudinal Preschool Study in Canada.

Participants  Written parental consent was obtained for 181 of the 377 children from intact families at kindergarten exclusively selected for follow-up telephone interviews in the fall of sixth grade, 6 years after the initial assessments. Of these, 163 children had complete data in kindergarten (mean age, 5.5 years) and sixth grade (mean age, 11.5 years) for the key variables in the analyses.

Main Outcome Measure  Self-reported gambling behavior in sixth grade.

Results  A 1-unit increase in kindergarten impulsivity corresponded to a 25% increase in later self-reported child involvement in gambling (SE = .02). This was above and beyond potential child- and family-related confounds, including parental gambling.

Conclusions  Our findings offer insight about how the nature and course of early impulsivity might relate to a significantly higher propensity toward involvement in games of chance in later childhood. It is suggested that developmentally continuous risks associated with early impulsivity place individuals on a risk trajectory toward excessive gambling involvement in adolescence and emerging adulthood.