The Janus-Faced Role of Gambling Flow in Addiction Issues

Rohit H. Trivedi & Thorsten Teichert.

Flow experience has been widely investigated in experiential activities such as sports, the performing arts, gaming, and Internet usage. Most studies focus on the positive aspects of flow experience and its effect on performance. In stark contrast, gambling research focusing on the negative side of addiction lacks an in-depth investigation of gamblers’ (positive) flow encounters. This separation of research lines seems out of place given that recent research indicates connections between flow and addiction. Joining both constructs in a causal-effects model helps one gain a better understanding of their relationship and its contingencies. This article empirically investigates whether and how it is possible to observe a “Janus face” of flow with its various sub-dimensions in online gambling. Empirical data were collected from 500 online gamblers by applying a structured questionnaire with established scales. The data were analyzed with a confirmatory factor analysis and a double-hurdle model to separate casual gamblers who are unsusceptible to any addiction issues from gamblers affected by initiatory addiction issues. The findings indicate that online gambling addiction is negatively influenced by two sub-dimensions of flow experience, namely a sense of control and concentration on the task at hand, whereas it is enhanced by a transformation of time and autotelic experience.

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