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?
- Sexual Fantasies: Threesomes Are Normal, Golden Showers Not So Much
- Ghost Light From Dead Galaxies - A Hubble Halloween
- Mediterranean Diet Linked To Better Kidney Health
- Greenpeace Says Its GMOs Are Better Than Science's GMOs, Still Hates Golden Rice
- Cyclone Nilofar Looks More Like A Comet
- Game Theory: When Are Groups Social? Or Insufferable?
- Coulrophobia: Are Clowns Scary? Ha Ha Aaaargh
- "Ah - sorry, but regardless that this may be taken as disdain again by you, you seem to simply have..."
- "Twelve years in a major urban public school system, and I couldn't once bring myself to eat a school..."
- "Hardly a day goes by without some creative new take on the eternal Evil White Man meme. Without..."
- "There would be no controversy if it were all balloons and ponies stories like that. But I hope..."
- "Let's talk about this disaster: I lost a course at the university where I work and became ineligible..."
- Battle of Britain: NGOs and scientists clash over proposal to loosen EU GMO restrictions
- Genetically modified clean energy from bacteria
- Designer babies: You can screen for cystic fibrosis but intelligence is a ways off
- Science as profane: What superstition of 1752 and 2014 share in common
- What’s so “natural” about “natural crop breeding”?
- Worried you have cancer? Take a Google pill!
- Report examines health care challenges for pregnant women enrolled in covered California
- NYU research: Majority of high school seniors favor more liberal marijuana policies
- ESA Frontiers November preview
- Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?
- Synthetic lethality offers a new approach to kill tumor cells, explains Moffitt researcher