Narrowed focus and dissociative experiences in a community sample of experienced video lottery gamblers

Abstract

Problem (n = 20) and occasional (n = 22) video lottery terminal (VLT) gamblers were compared on speed of reaction to irrelevant light stimuli on a nongambling baseline measure and while playing on a VLT, on feelings of dissociation when gambling (Jacobs, 1988), and on general dissociative experiences (Dissociative Experiences Scale [DES]; Bernstein & Putnam, 1986). The groups did not differ on DES scores. Problem gamblers reported more dissociative-like experiences when gambling than occasional gamblers. For the problem gamblers only the speed of response to irrelevant light stimuli when playing on the VLT was dependent on the order of task presentation. These findings suggest problem VLT gamblers focus intensely on VLT play but are capable of changing their focus if the task requires it.

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