Attentional biases among pathological gamblers


Pictorial stimuli were presented in a Stroop task paradigm that enabled the recording of attentional bias. The sample comprised 33 pathological slot machine gamblers {(PG)} and 22 control participants. The design of the study had one between-subjects factor -- Group {(PGs} vs control), and two within-subject factors: (1) Stimulus meaning (win-related gambling stimuli vs neutral stimuli) and (2) Exposure (subliminal vs supraliminal). The results supported the notion that the {PG} group had an attentional bias towards visual win-related gambling stimuli compared with the control group. Furthermore, the degree of attentional bias among the {PG} group was moderately negatively correlated with net loss in the week before testing. One possible treatment implication of the findings is to include in-vivo exposure sessions as a supplement to cognitive behavioural therapy for gambling. Future studies could also include non-win gambling-related stimuli and should also comprise non-pathological regular gamblers as an additional control group.

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