The Role of Light and Music in Gambling Behaviour: An Empirical Pilot Study

  • Jenny Spenwyn
  • Doug J. K. Barrett
  • Mark D. Griffiths


Empirical research examining the situational characteristics of gambling and their effect on gambling behaviour is limited but growing. This experimental pilot investigation reports the first ever empirical study into the combined effects of both music and light on gambling behaviour. While playing an online version of roulette, 56 participants took part in one of four experimental conditions (14 participants in each condition); (1) gambling with fast tempo music under normal (white) light, (2) gambling with fast tempo music under red light, (3) gambling with slow tempo music under normal (white) light, and (4) gambling with slow tempo music under red light. Risk (dollars spent) per spin and speed of bets were measured as indicators of gambling behaviour. Significant main effects were found for speed of bets in relation to musical tempo, but not light. No significant effects were found for risk per spin for either of the two independent variables. A significant interaction between light and music for speed of bets was shown. Planned comparisons revealed that fast tempo music under red light resulted in faster gambling. These findings are discussed along with the methodological limitations, and potential implications for various stakeholders including the gambling industry and practitioners.


Gambling Problem gambling Music Light Colour Situational characteristics 


  1. Aaker, J. L., Bent-Martinez, V., & Gorolera, A. (2001). Consumption symbols: A study of Japanese and Spanish brand personality constructs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(3), 492–508.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ali, M. R. (1972). Pattern of EEG revery under phonic stimulation by light of different colours. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 33, 332–335.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, G., & Brown, R. I. F. (1984). Real and laboratory gambling sensation seeking and arousal. British Journal of Psychology, 74, 401–410.Google Scholar
  4. Areni, C. S., & Kim, D. (1993). The influence of background music on shopping behaviour: Classical versus top-forty music in a wine store. Advances in Consumer Research, 20, 336–340.Google Scholar
  5. Bagby, M. R., Vachon, D. D., Bulmash, E. L., Toneatto, T., Quilty, L. C., & Costa, P. T. (2007). Pathological gambling and the five-factor model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 873–880.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bellizi, J. A., & Hite, R. E. (1992). Environmental colour, consumer feelings and purchase likelihood. Psychological Marketing, 9(5), 347–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berlyne, D. E. (1971). Aesthetics and Psychology. New York: Appleton-County Crofts.Google Scholar
  8. Birren, F. (1978). Colour and Human Response. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.Google Scholar
  9. Bruner, G. (1990). Music, mood and marketing. Journal of Marketing, 54(4), 94–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caldwell, C., & Hibbert, S. A. (1999). Play that one again: The effect of music tempo on consumer behaviour in a restaurant. European Advances in Consumer Research, 4, 58–62.Google Scholar
  11. Dixon, L., Trigg, R., & Griffiths, M. (2007). An empirical investigation of music and gambling behaviour. International Gambling Studies, 7(3), 315–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dube, L., Chebat, J. C., & Morin, S. (1995). The effects of background music on consumers desire to affiliate in buyer- seller interactions. Psychology and Marketing, 12, 305–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finlay, K., Kanetkar, V., Londerville, J., & Marmurek, H. H. C. (2006). The physical and psychological measurement of gambling environments. Environment and Behaviour, 38(4), 570–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Finlay, K., Marmurek, H. H. C., Kanetkar, V., & Londerville, J. (2007). Trait and state emotion congruence in simulate casinos: Effects on at-risk gambling intention and restoration. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 27, 166–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fountaine, C. W., & Schwalm, N. D. (1979). Effects of familiarity of music on vigilant performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 49, 71–74.Google Scholar
  16. Gonzalez, L. M. (2005). The impact of ad background colour on brand personality and brand preferences. (Electronic version). Retrieved December 13, 2007 from
  17. Griffiths, M. D. (1993). Fruit machine gambling: The importance of structural characteristics. Journal of Gambling Studies, 9, 101–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Griffiths, M. D. (1994). The role of cognitive bias and skill in fruit machine gambling. British Journal of Psychology, 85, 351–369.Google Scholar
  19. Griffiths, M. D. (1995). Adolescent Gambling. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Griffiths, M. D. & Dunbar, D. (1997). The role of familiarity in fruit machine gambling. Society for the Study of Gambling Newsletter, 29, 15–20.Google Scholar
  21. Griffiths, M. D., & Parke, J. (2003). The Environmental Psychology of Gambling. In G. Reith (Ed.), Gambling: Who wins? Who loses? (pp. 277–292). New York: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  22. Griffiths, M.D. & Parke, J. (2005). The psychology of music in gambling environments: an observational research note. Journal of Gambling Issues, 13. Available at:
  23. Griffiths, M. D., & Swift, G. (1992). The use of light and colour in gambling arcades: A pilot study. Society for the Study of Gambling Newsletter, 21, 16–22.Google Scholar
  24. Grossman, R. P., & Wisenblit, J. Z. (1999). What we know about consumers colour choices. Journal of Marketing Practice: Applied Marketing Science, 5(3), 78–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hebert, S., Beland, R., Dionne-Fournelle, O., Crete, M., & Lupien, S. J. (2004). Psychological stress response to video game playing: the contribution of built in music. Life Sciences, 76, 2371–2380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hess, H. F., & Diller, J. V. (1969). Motivation for gambling as revealed in the marketing methods of the legitimate gaming industry. Psychological Reports, 25, 19–27.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hevner, K. (1937). The affective value of pitch and tempo in music. American Journal of Psychology, 49, 621–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kellaris, J. J., & Kent, R. J. (1993). An exploratory investigation of responses elicited by music varying in tempo, tonality, and texture. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2, 381–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ladouceur, R., Tourigny, M., & Mayrand, M. (1986). Familiarity, group exposure and risk-taking in gambling. Journal of Psychology, 120, 45–49.Google Scholar
  30. Levetin, D. (2006). This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  31. Martindale, C., & Moore, K. (1988). Priming, prototypicality and preference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 661–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McBain, W. N. (1961). Noise, the “arousal hypothesis” and monotonous work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 43, 309–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McElrea, H., & Standing, F. (1992). Fast music causes fast drinking. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 75, 362.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Mehrabian, A. (1989). Effects of affective and informational characteristics of work environments on worker satisfaction. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 9, 293–301.Google Scholar
  35. Milliman, R. E. (1982). Using background music to affect the behaviour of supermarket shoppers. Journal of Marketing, 46, 86–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Milliman, R. E. (1986). The influence of background music on the behaviour of restaurant patrons. Journal of Consumer Research, 13, 286–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. North, A. C. (2003). The effect of musical style on restaurant consumers’ spending. Environment and Behaviour, 35, 712–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. North, A. C., & Hargreaves, D. J. (1997). Experimental Aesthetics and Everyday Music Listening. In D. J. Hargreaves & A. C. North (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Music (pp. 84–103). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Parke, J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2006). The psychology of the fruit machine: The role of structural characteristics re-visited. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4, 151–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Parke, J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). The Role of Structural Characteristics in Gambling. In G. Smith, D. Hodgins & R. Williams (Eds.), Research and Measurement Issues in Gambling Studies (pp. 211–243). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  41. Pride, W., & Ferrell, O. C. (2003). Marketing; Concepts and Strategies 12. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  42. Radocy, R.E., & Boyle, J.D. (1997). Psychological foundations of musical behaviour. In Wilson, S. (2003). The effect of music on perceived atmosphere & purchase intentions in a restaurant. Psychology of Music, 31,93–112.Google Scholar
  43. Roballey, T. C., McGreen, C., Rongo, R. R., Schwantio, M. L., Stiger, P. J., Winnger, M. A., & Gardener, E. B. (1985). The effect of music on eating behaviour. Bulletin of the Psychometric Society, 23, 221–222.Google Scholar
  44. Singh, S. (2006). Impact of colour on marketing. Management Decision, 44, 783–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stark, G. M., Saunders, D. M., & Wookey, P. E. (1982). Differential effects of red and blue coloured lighting on gambling behaviour. Current Psychological Research, 2, 95–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stout, P., & Leckenby, J. D. (1988). Let the Music Play: Music as a Nonverbal Element in Television Commercials. In S. Hecker & D. W. Steward (Eds.), Nonverbal Communication Advertising (pp. 207–233). Lexington: Lexington books.Google Scholar
  47. Tenenbaum, G., Lidor, Lavynan, N., Morrow, K., Tonnel, S., Gershgoren, A., et al. (2004). The effect of music type on running perseverance and coping with effort sensations. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 5, 89–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ueda, Y., Hayashi, K., Kuroiwa, K., Miyoshi, N., Kashiba, H., & Takeda, D. (2004). Consciousness and recognition of five colours—using Functional-MRI and brain wave measurements. Journal of International Soc Life Info Science, 22, 336–271.Google Scholar
  49. Valdez, P., & Mehrabian, A. (1994). Effects of colour on emotion. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 123(4), 394–409.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Ward, J. C., Bitner, M. J., & Barnes, J. (1992). Measuring the prototypicality and measuring of retail environments. Journal of Retailing, 68, 194–220.Google Scholar
  51. Wardle, H., Sproston, K., Orford, J., Erens, B., Griffiths, M., Constantine, R., et al. (2007). British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007. London: The Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  52. Wedin, L. (1972). A multidimensional study of perceptual-emotional qualities in music. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 13, 241–257.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. White, S. (1989). Against the odds (pp. 26–27). April: Young People Now.Google Scholar
  54. Wilson, G. D. (1966). Arousal properties of red versus green. Perceptual Motor Skills, 23, 947–949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wilson, S. (2003). The effect of music on perceived atmosphere and purchase intentions in a restaurant. Psychology of Music, 31, 93–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yoto, A., Katsuura, T., Iwanaga, K., & Shimomura, Y. (2007). Effects of object colour stimuli on human brain activities in perception and attention referred to EEG alpha band response. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 26, 373–379.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenny Spenwyn
    • 1
  • Doug J. K. Barrett
    • 1
  • Mark D. Griffiths
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Nottingham Trent UniversityPsychology Division, School of Social SciencesNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Nottingham Trent UniversityInternational Gaming Research Unit, Psychology DivisionNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations