Misperceptions of peer gambling norms among adolescents: Analysis of a national sample in Finland


Introduction: Misperceptions of peer drinking norms are widely documented in the US student populations and are associated with increased personal consumption. Few studies have examined misperceptions of peer gambling, and none of these have been conducted among adolescents in the European context. In a national sample, we examined misperceptions of peer gambling in Finland. Tenets of the social norms approach form a framework for discussion of the findings. Methods: Participants were 4526 adolescents aged 12 to 18 years who completed the nationwide Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey in 2011. Main measures were gambling behavior and the perception of same age-sex peers’ gambling. Misperception was an overestimation of the frequency of gambling by others compared to the actual frequency of gambling. Results: Adolescents held substantial misperceptions of peer gambling, imagining they gambled much more than they actually did. Age, sex, and gambling behavior were correlated with the perceptions. The extent of misperception was greatest among monthly gamblers, whereas non-gamblers and daily gamblers were more accurate in their perceptions. Estimations of peers’ gambling frequency were more accurate in boys than in girls and among those aged 12 years than among older adolescents. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that adolescent gambling prevention efforts could benefit from adopting a social norms approach; that is, correcting gambling-related misperceptions might discourage gambling and protect adolescents from adopting more severe gambling patterns.

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Raisamo, S. and Lintonen, T. (2012) Misperceptions of peer gambling norms among adolescents: Analysis of a national sample in Finland. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2, 131-136. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2012.22019.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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