Croc study sheds light on problem gambling

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Melbourne, Jan 29 (ANI): Scientists in Australia have used crocodiles to shed light on the factors that make people more likely to become problem gamblers.

The study was conducted by psychologist, Dr Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer of Central Queensland University in Bundaberg, reports ABC Science.

Rockloff said that it is well known that gambling is exciting and causes measurable symptoms of physiological arousal such as increased heart rate.

In the gaming environment, players often interpret such excitement as a "lucky feeling" and there is some suggestion that this makes them more likely to take higher risks.

Rockloff was interested in testing whether excitement really does cause you to lose yourself and take greater risks, and if so under what circumstances.

He carried out an experiment that recruited 103 visitors to a Queensland crocodile farm to play a simulated Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) on a laptop.

As part of the study, a control group were asked to play the EGM before seeing the crocodiles.

The test group were asked to play after taking a tour of the farm, during which time they were told stories about crocodile attacks, saw a crocodile jumping at a piece of meat and got to hold a live juvenile croc.

Each participant was given 20 dollars, which they could use as credit for their gambling so they felt they were gambling with their own money. No participants knew the connection between the crocodile farm and the gambling study.

Rockloff found that people with a pre-existing gambling problem who appeared to have fun holding the live crocodile took greater risks in the gambling than those who were anxious and nervous after touring the farm.

He also found some people in the control group (who had not yet had contact with the crocodiles) took more risks if they had high negative emotions, compared to those who said they were feeling happy.

The findings suggest that problem gamblers should watch out for certain emotional states that are likely to make them gamble greater amounts, he said.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Gambling Studies. (ANI)

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