Gambling attitudes and beliefs predict attentional bias in non-problem gamblers

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Grant, LD & Bowling, AC 2015, 'Gambling attitudes and beliefs predict attentional bias in non-problem gamblers', Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 1487-1503.

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Problem gambling has been identified as a public health concern in Australia, and a considerable proportion of regular gamblers may be at risk of developing gambling related problems. Attentional bias to salient cues has been observed in substance addictions, and to some extent, in problem gamblers. This bias appears to be indicative of an increase in sensitisation to salient cues as a result of continued reforcement of a related behaviour. To test for an attentional bias to gambling-related stimuli in non-problem gamblers, the relationships between gambling frequency, gambling attitudes and beliefs (GABS-23), and attentional bias were investigated. Participants (N = 38) viewed simultaneous pairs of gambling-related and neutral images and performed a dot probe task, during which their eye-movements were recorded. This enabled both direct and indirect measures of attentional bias to be obtained. Gambling frequency and GABS-23 scores predicted both direct and indirect measures of a bias in the maintenance of attention to gambling cues. No bias in attentional engagement was found. These results suggest that regular gamblers who have not yet developed any related problems show signs of sensitisation to gambling cues and may be at risk of progressing further towards problem gambling.

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