Type of musical soundtrack affects behavior in gambling

Abstract

Background and aims: A long existing notion is that the presence of music might affect gambling behavior. In spite of this, little empirical research on the subject exists. The main aim of the present study was to corroborate and elaborate on the existing findings concerning gambling and music through a laboratory based experiment. Methods: A nonclinical sample of 101 undergraduate students (72 females, 29 males) played a computerized gambling task in which either a high-tempo or a low-tempo musical soundtrack was present. Persistence in gambling, reaction time and evaluation of the game comprised the outcome variables. Results: Low-tempo music was associated with increased gambling persistence in terms of overall number of bets placed, whereas high-tempo music was associated with intensified gambling in terms of faster reaction time per placed bet. Type of soundtrack was not associated with game evaluation. Discussion: Our findings add to the existing knowledge by showing that both low-tempo and high-tempo music can be associated with more risky gambling behavior, the former by increasing gambling persistence and the latter by reducing reaction time for bets placed. Conclusions: In sum, the existing studies provide compelling evidence that music can affect various aspects of gambling behavior. These findings may have clinical implications by educating gamblers on the effects of structural mechanisms in gambling on behavior.

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