Gamblers interpret near-misses as frustrating losses rather than near-wins, and that frustration stimulates the reward systems in the brain to promote continued gambling, which may contribute to addictive gambling behavior.
Analyses to date have shown that near-misses support persistent gambling and activate brain areas that reinforce certain behaviors. If near-misses are seen as near-wins, then they should be pleasurable. If, however, near-misses are highly frustrating losses, then they should be unpleasant. Dixon and team set out to shed light on this debate.
Researchers measured the time between the result of a spin and the initiation of the next spin following losses, near-misses and wins of various sizes among 122 participants as they played a slot machine simulator. Of the 122 gamblers, 22 were non-problem gamblers, 37 were at risk players and 23 were problem gamblers. The researchers also assessed the players' frustration levels by measuring the rate at which electricity travels through the skin. Skin responses reflect psychophysical changes as a result of frustration.
Dr. Mike Dixon from the University of Waterloo comments, "Our findings support the hypothesis that these types of near-misses are a particularly frustrating form of loss, and contradict the supposition that they are a mis-categorized win. Specifically, following these types of near-misses, participants may be driven to spin again as quickly as possible to remove themselves from a particularly frustrating state."
The analyses showed that progressively larger wins led to longer pauses between spins and increased arousal levels. Near-misses with jackpot symbols landing on the first two reels led to significantly larger skin responses than regular losses and other types of near-misses. In addition, the gamblers were compelled to repeat the spin as quickly as possible after this type of near miss.
“By activating what we call the appetitive component of the mesolimbic rewards system, these near-misses may help a player develop a hopeful, subjective impression that the next win is imminent,” said Dixon. “This might ultimately contribute to the sensitization of the appetitive system, which plays a key role in addictive behavior.”
Citation: Dixon MJ et al (2012). The frustrating effects of just missing the jackpot: slot machines near-misses trigger large skin conductance responses, but no post-reinforcement pauses. Journal of Gambling Studies DOI 10.1007/s10899-012-9333-x.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Researchers Created A Laser Bullet To See What It Would Look Like - And Here It Is
- The Strange Organic Molecules In Titan's Atmosphere
- Will Holding Thermal Printer Paper Really Send Your BPA Levels Soaring?
- How Gut Bacteria Ensure A Healthy Brain – and Could Play A Role In Treating Depression
- The Quote Of The Week - Shocked And Disappointed
- As The Weather Changes, So Do Beliefs About Climate Change
- Moderate Pot Use By Adolescents Doesn't Hurt IQ
- "So the people most qualified to help are working for free at night? I doubt that. Anyway, you objected..."
- "I see. One must have an expensive Mac to be able to use the software for free...."
- "Also, why do you assume a person seeking coverage needs to take off work? People in need of assistance..."
- "According to this article, the report was not about the accuracy of the website. It was a survey..."
- "Well how about you make some logically reasonable statements. My post was simply pointing out the..."
- US Ebola hysteria and money pit highlight lack of resources to confront diseases that kill far more people
- Addiction can be measured by epigenetics
- Coffee grounds turned biofuel can heat your home
- Bill and Melinda Gates on GMOs: ‘Poor farmers should not be denied choice of life-saving tools’
- Why do foodies love organics? Because they taste like McDonald’s!
- GMO milk? An enviros dream innovation that most enviros oppose
- Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page
- A gut bacterium that attacks dengue and malaria pathogens and their mosquito vectors
- Highest altitude ice age human occupation documented in Peruvian Andes
- TSRI chemists achieve new technique with profound implications for drug development
- Gene identified for immune system reset after infection