Physiological arousal and sensation seeking in female fruit machine gamblers

Kenny R. Coventry, Beverley Constable

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88 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. To examine changes in physiological arousal, as indexed by heart rate, during fruit machine gambling while controlling for the confounding effect of movement and as a function of winning and losing, and to examine relationships between sensation-seeking, self-reported arousal during gambling, heart rate during gambling and frequency of gambling. Sample, design and measurements. Heart rate and subjective arousal were recorded in a sample of 32 female fruit machine players before, during and after the gambling process. At baseline measures were taken of sensation-seeking, self-reported arousal during gambling and frequency of gambling. A simulation of the behaviour used to operate fruit machines was used during baseline measurement. Findings. Significant increases in heart-rate over movement controlled baselines were observed within participants during gambling, but only in those who won during play. No correlations between HR levels and subjective arousal were found. However, striking negative correlations between sensation-seeking and frequency of gambling, and between subjective arousal and frequency were present. Conclusions. Gambling alone is not enough to induce increases in HR levels for female fruit machine gamblers; the experience of winning or the anticipation of that experience is necessary to increase HR levels. In addition sensation-seeking appears to be negatively associated with this kind of gambling behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-430
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999

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