A systematic review of attentional bias in problem gambling

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A large body of previous research has provided support for the role of attentional bias as a maintaining factor in addiction. This systematic review aimed to investigate the extent and nature of attentional bias as a phenomenon which exists within problem gamblers. Studies were identified through searches of three databases (MedLine, PSYCHINFO, and Web of Science) and examination of the reference lists of the final studies meeting criteria for inclusion. The scope of the review included empirical studies making experimental comparisons of problem gamblers and non-problem gamblers across a range of attentional paradigms. A comparison of effect sizes was conducted across studies comparing problem to non-problem gamblers within and between attention paradigms. Twenty-two studies were reviewed systematically across ten experimental paradigms. Attentional bias was demonstrated in 16 of the 22 studies, with attentional bias effects varying across paradigms. Quality assessment revealed two main limitations across studies: lack of a priori power analysis, and failure to control for gambling frequency as a possible confounding variable. Findings support the role of attentional bias as a potential maintaining factor in problem gambling behaviour, in line with evidence for substance addiction. Recommendations for future studies are outlined alongside a discussion of clinical implications.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Early online date9 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2023


  • Attentional bias
  • Gambling disorder
  • Problem gambling
  • Systematic review

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