The “Zone”: a qualitative exploratory study of an altered state of awareness in electronic gaming machine problem gambling [subscription access article]

Oakes, J., Pols, R., Lawn, S. et al. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-018-9976-7

Abstract: This paper reports a state of mind described by electronic gaming machine (EGM) problem gamblers (PGs) as the “zone”. Twenty-nine PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews. Participants described an altered state of awareness: the zone, which was highly desirable providing relief from negative emotions. PGs had difficulty recalling experiences whilst in the zone but described a constriction of attention, awareness and impairment of cognitive functions. During this time, the PG could not think critically, exercise self-observation, realistically appraise the use of money, see the consequences of their actions, exercise the will to cease gambling or learn from harms. Memory was impaired, as was decision-making and the capacity to make rational choices. Understanding the zone may provide insight into treatment where the capacity to learn may be reduced. Further research is needed to determine what proportions of EGM gamblers experience the zone and if this occurs with non-EGM gamblers. Article and access details

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Associations Between Gambling Games and Gambling Problems: Whole Games Compared with Temporal, Skill Characteristics, and Other Structural Characteristics

Goodie, A. S. (2015). Associations Between Gambling Games and Gambling Problems: Whole Games Compared with Temporal, Skill Characteristics, and Other Structural Characteristics. Current Addiction Reports, 1–5. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-015-0068-5

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Research and commentary have been addressed to distinctions regarding problem gambling on the basis of differences in the types of gambling in which individuals engage, such as symptom severity, co-occurring conditions, psychological correlates, and demographic differences. Some progress has been made at the level of the whole game. For example, electronic gaming machine users are more often female and more prone to depressive disorders as well as gambling disorder. Players of other games, such as poker and sports betting, are typically male and prone to substance use disorders. A promising recent trend, however, is to create taxonomies to analyze relevant structural game characteristics that predict gambling problems in a theoretically grounded way…