Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 343–358 | Cite as

Arousal and Gambling Mode Preference: A Review of the Literature

  • Julian Baudinet
  • Alexander Blaszczynski
Review Paper


The purpose of this paper is to review the literature examining subjective and physiological arousal associated with an individual’s preferred modes of gambling. Arousal is hypothesised to play a central role in the onset and maintenance of problem gambling. Most studies have failed to differentiate relevant patterns of arousal elicited by stimuli associated with preferred versus non-preferred modes of gambling on the assumption that similar processes motivate all gamblers. At the conceptual level, sub-typing theories of problem gambling propose differences in the motivation to gamble, and the associated role arousal plays in maintaining behaviours. A review of the existing literature reveals preliminary findings that indicate that gamblers respond differentially to preferred compared to non-preferred gambling stimuli, and that gamblers may display greater reactivity in arousal to gambling cues compared to non-gamblers. Understanding differences in such patterns of arousal can be used to inform clinical interventions by effectively targeting the nature and role of arousal associated with preferred modes of gambling, and determining the extent to which non-preferred modes act as secondary reinforces triggering by gambling urges.


Problem gambling Arousal Psychophysiology Excitement Subjective arousal Heart rate Skin conductance 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology (A18)The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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