Arousal and affective differences between student gamblers and non-gamblers during a card game

Abstract

The current study examined the differences in arousal (physiologically and subjectively) between gamblers and non-gamblers. Thirty students from a mid-sized university took part in the study for a chance to win money in a gambling task. Nearly half of the participants identified themselves as non-gamblers and slightly more than half of the participants considered themselves gamblers. Findings indicated that gamblers experienced a significantly higher increase in physiological arousal (heart rate) compared to non-gamblers during the gambling experience. The results suggests the possibility that physiological arousal may play a role in the appeal of gambling to certain types of people. Furthermore, when gamblers suffered a loss at the end of the game, they reported feeling worse as compared to the non-gamblers and relative to their state before playing. Moreover, this affective change explained 28.6% of the variance in gambling behavior according to self-reports. Findings suggest that gamblers in our study may have been more personally invested in the gambling tasks, such that losing was more disappointing to the habitual gamblers than the non-gamblers.

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