examining the influence of sensation seeking and gender on consumers' emotional responses to visual stimuli in computer-simulated slot machines

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Purpose: Based on research on gambling and consumer psychology, the current study examines the influence of individuals' sensation seeking and gender on their emotional responses to visual stimulation during computer mediated slot-machine gaming.

Methods: Following a pilot test to establish the reliability of scaled measures, as well as the validity of gambling stimuli and baseline treatments, data are collected from a sample of social gamblers (18+), as identified by the SOGS diagnostic. The experiment consisted of three phases. First, information on subjects' characteristics was gathered, including SS, gambling history, and gambling attitudes. Second, subjects participated in baseline tasks, designed to level their emotional states. Utilizing a randomized block design, participants (N = 200) then played a computer-mediated slot machine, with the conditions varying across groups in terms of level of visual stimulation (speed/duration of spin). Subjects also completed self-report measures of emotion (PAD) relative to their gambling experience.

Results: Following the gambling and personality literature, data were analyzed separately by gender. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed no significant interaction effects between SS levels and visual manipulations, in terms of subjects' emotional responses. However, there were significant main effects of SS on A for males and on P for females. Further, there was a significant main effect of visual stimuli on A for males. A post hoc analysis found a significant main effect of winning sequence on D, where sequence of game/spin outcomes (win-near miss, near miss-win, win-miss disconnected) influenced perceived control.

Conclusion: This investigation is one of the first attempts to examine emotional response to certain features of slots in terms of SS. SS is not found to moderate visual stimulation effects on emotional responses for either sex. However, the data partially support the notion that certain emotions vary as a function of the main effects of SS or visual stimuli. The study results also indicate that males and females show different patterns of emotion within each treatment condition. Further, winning sequence is found to be a significant predictor for the D dimension of emotion. The applied/theoretical implications of the study's findings are discussed, along with future directions for research.