Mood state and gambling: Using mobile telephones to track emotions

Abstract

Mobile telephones were used to collect data on the relationship between gambling and mood state from gamblers in the field. Seventeen gamblers called an interactive voice response system running on a computer before, during and after a gambling episode. Measures taken in this way included self-reports of anxiety/arousal, the amount of money gambled, whether the result was a win or loss, the amount won or lost, and the type of gambling engaged in. Other measures were taken during an initial briefing session using conventional questionnaires that included self-reports of anxiety/arousal taken in a non-gambling situation, dissociation during gambling, and a measure of degree of impairment of control. The results showed that subjective anxiety/arousal levels were significantly higher during and after gambling than during the urge to gamble or at baselines. Losing was associated with increased subjective anxiety/arousal after play, and winning was associated with a decrease in subjective anxiety/arousal. This suggests that gambling may be a cause of increased subjective anxiety/arousal, rather than functioning to relieve it. A cluster of variables associated with impaired control and subjective anxiety/arousal levels was also identified. The method of collecting data using mobile telephones appears to be a valuable development.

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