Impulsive sensation seeking and gambling practice among a sample of online poker players: Comparison between non pathological, problem and pathological gamblers

Abstract

The aims of this study are to assess impulsive sensation seeking among online poker players and to study the links between impulsive sensation seeking and gambling practice. One hundred and eighty (180) regular online poker players (i.e. playing at least once a week for a minimum duration of one year) completed three self-report scales on line assessing pathological gambling (SOGS), poker practice (poker questionnaire) and impulsive sensation seeking (ImpSS scale). Based on the SOGS scores, participants were divided into three groups: non-pathological gamblers (n = 112), problem gamblers (n = 37) and pathological gamblers (n = 31). The impulsive sensation seeking scores of all the poker players are high. They all display high levels of sensation seeking, regardless of their intensity of gambling. However, pathological gamblers are more impulsive than problem and non-pathological gamblers. Impulsivity is a good predictor for pathological gambling. Online poker players are high sensation seekers who gamble to experience strong feelings and arousal, whereas impulsivity plays an important role in developing and maintaining pathological gambling. This study underlines the psychological specificities of online poker players and the need to take into account impulsive sensation seeking not only in the research on pathological gambling poker players but also in the development of preventive action.

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