Relapse prevention models suggest that positive outcome expectancies can constitute situational determinants of relapse episodes that interact with other factors to determine the likelihood of relapse. The primary aims were to examine reciprocal relationships between situational positive gambling outcome expectancies and gambling behaviour and moderators of these relationships. An online survey and a 28 day Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) were administered to 109 past-month gamblers (84% with gambling problems). EMA measures included outcome expectancies (enjoyment/arousal, self-enhancement, money), self-efficacy, craving, negative emotional state, interpersonal conflict, social pressure, positive emotional state, financial pressures, and gambling behaviour (episodes, expenditure). Pre-EMA measures included problem gambling severity, motives, psychological distress, coping strategies, and outcome expectancies. No reciprocal relationships between EMA outcome expectancies and gambling behaviour (episodes, expenditure) were identified. Moderations predicting gambling episodes revealed: (1) cravings and problem gambling exacerbated effects of enjoyment/arousal expectancies; (2) positive emotional state and positive reframing coping exacerbated effects of self-enhancement expectancies; and (3) instrumental social support buffered effects of money expectancies. Positive outcome expectancies therefore constitute situational determinants of gambling behaviour, but only when they interact with other factors. All pre-EMA expectancies predicted problem gambling severity (OR = 1.61–3.25). Real-time interventions addressing gambling outcome expectancies tailored to vulnerable gamblers are required.
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