Rationalization as a Dissonance Management Strategy among Electronic Gambling Machine Players


  • Tara Hahmann University of Toronto
  • Eva Monson Université de Sherbrooke




problem gambling, cognitive dissonance, erroneous gambling-related beliefs, rationalization


Erroneous gambling-related beliefs are well researched in light of their association with problem gambling, with some research suggesting these beliefs also serve as justifications for gambling behaviour. The process of justification (i.e., rationalization) can provide insights into how those who gamble resolve dissonance resulting from persistent loss in the gambling context. Using in-depth interviews of 43 participants who identified electronic gambling machines as their preferred game type and were either experiencing gambling problems or were at risk of developing a problem, this study details how dissonance is managed through rationalizations in line with the Dawson (1999) framework. This framework is based on research of religious groups surviving prophetic disconfirmation and is employed here to highlight the contextual and socio-cultural underpinnings of rationalizations along with their supernatural and pseudo-religious qualities. Rationalizations reflect broader socio-cultural beliefs around morality, work, speculation, perseverance, and the supernatural. Implications for treatment are discussed.

Author Biographies

Tara Hahmann, University of Toronto

Tara Hahmann is a Visiting Research Affiliate at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions in Toronto, Canada. She has research interests in the drivers and consequences of and solutions for problem gambling, especially among those experiencing poverty and other complex social and health needs.

Eva Monson, Université de Sherbrooke

Eva Monson is a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke and a researcher at the Centre de recherche - Charles-Le Moyne – Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean sur les innovations en santé in Québec, Canada. Dr. Monson received her PhD from McGill University where she studied trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder as they relate to quality of life and perceived neighborhood contexts. Her current research is devoted to investigating how social and environmental deprivation, from the level of the individual to the neighborhoods where they reside, factor into the dialogue concerning gambling behaviors and problems. 




How to Cite

Hahmann, T., & Monson, E. (2021). Rationalization as a Dissonance Management Strategy among Electronic Gambling Machine Players. Critical Gambling Studies, 2(1), 76–86. https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs32