Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Something: The Impact of Autonomic Arousal on EGM Gambling
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An experiment was conducted to observe the influence of autonomic arousal on subsequent gambling behavior. Thirty-seven male and 32 female regular Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) players were recruited through newspaper advertisements. Participants were randomly assigned to either: (1) a control condition, or (2) an experimental condition that introduced a loud white-noise event (80 db) at fixed 120 s intervals throughout the 5-min EGM gambling session. Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) measurements showed that the manipulation was successful in elevating autonomic arousal. The results showed differences in behavioral response to the manipulation based on prior experience with gambling problems. Persons with many gambling problems had lower average bet-sizes in the white-noise condition compared to the control, while those with few or no problems had higher average bet-sizes. The results suggest that arousal may provide different signals to gamblers with few versus many problems. Gamblers with many problems may interpret their arousal as a sign that they will soon lose money, while gamblers with few or no problems may associate feelings of arousal exclusively with winning.
KeywordsGambling Pathological gambling Physiological arousal Sensation seeking Affect
This research was supported by a grant from the Queensland Treasury Department, Australia.
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