Gambling Different theoretical perspectives and the rationality question revisited
National lottery and scratch cards • One year after its introduction in 1994, Lottery ticket sales reached £4.4 billion • In 1995, over 60% of adults gambled every week • Is the National Lottery good for us? • Have we become a nation of gamblers? • How do people feel when they forget to renew their regular numbers? • Is the National lottery addictive? Are scratchcards addictive? • Does it lead to more “worrying” forms of gambling?
Definition and types of gambling • “any situation in which people intentionally risk and stake money on a future event is gambling” (Griffiths, 1997) • “hard” versus “soft” gambling • event frequency • length of time between gambling and pay-out • pay-out ratio • starting to gamble vs. continue to gamble might be influenced by different factors
Different types of gamblers • Social, leisure, occasional gambler • Habitual gambler • Pathological gambler • DSM classification of pathological gambling • continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling • Prevalence of pathological gambling is 2-3 % of population (lower in locations with limited gambling opportunities) • Gender difference is roughly 2/3 men and 1/3 women
Theoretical perspectives Individual Internal • psychodynamic • physiological/biological • operant conditioning • personality • cognitive factors • social learning • beliefs & attitudes • features of the gambling situation • accessibility of gambling • socio-structural factors Social External
Examples and studies • Cognitive factors • irrational thinking (e.g., Ladouceur et al., 1988) • illusion of control • treat chance events as controllable, but defined more generally as “expectancy of personal success inappropriately higher than the objective probability would warrant” (Langer, 1975) • Dice-throwing • Lottery tickets • near miss (2, 6, 13, 17 versus 2, 6, 13, 18) • can act as reinforcer (e.g., Griffiths, 1990)
Social factors • Social learning • Browne & Browne (1994) • focus on “observational learning” from models (parents and friends) • best predictive variables of student gambling (in order) • engaging in other forms of gambling • peer gambling • parental gambling
More integrative theories of gambling • Acknowledgement that any single factor or single theory is unlikely to offer a full explanation • Jacob’s (1989) general theory of addiction, repeated behaviour provides relief from stress by creating dissociative state and altered state of identity • addiction due to a combination of • “abnormal” physiological resting state • deficiency in self-identity & self-esteem
Integrative theories cont. • Stein’s (1989) developmental approach • cognitive-developmental stage model • gamblers’ transition to formal-operational stage delayed, so find it hard to resist short-term reward
Is gambling irrational? • All gambling scenarios are set up in such a way that – in the long run – they invariably lead to financial loss • Gambling therefore appears clearly irrational from a financial utility-maximisation viewpoint • Most players are aware of this, yet continue to gamble • Is this behaviour irrational?
Irrational? • In decision-making, two assumptions about humans are evident • intuitive statistician, motivated by profit • irrational, erroneous thinker, beset with bias and focus on concrete information • Counter-argument from Lopes (1981): people think and act very differently in long-run vs. short-term decisions
Playing blackjack(Keren & Wagenaar, 1985) • examines decision-making processes of blackjack players in real setting (Amsterdam casino) • models of player • rational: “intuitive statistician” • irrational: biased, literal, sub-optimal behaviour • strategies
Keren & Waagenar cont. • plays recorded and patterns compared to basic as “optimal” strategy • systematic deviations, serve players’ non-monetary goals • Conclusion: decision-process composed of two layers (rational and non-rational) • count, basic strategy, reduce loss or maximise win • fun, thrill, all-or-nothing, entertainment, staying in the game as long as possible, leisure
When people behave against their better judgement…(Denes-Raj & Epstein, 1994) • Respondents’ task is to pick a red jelly bean (=win) and they choose between two bowls to pick from • Respondents prefer to draw from bowl with more beans 1red, 9 white beans 10red, 90 white beans 10% (or 5-9%) 10%
Ratio bias (likelihood of 1 in x is low) • Ratio systematically lowered for larger bowl, ranging between 5-9%, evidence for sub-optimal choices, but limited as less than 20% would accept 5% • Sub-optimal choices higher on win trials • Self-reported engagement in gambling activities in everyday life were significantly correlated • CEST: cognitive-experiential self-theory • Joint operation of two systems: rational-analytical and experiential-intuitive • Two systems placed in conflict, experiential-intuitive wins out
Questions to ponder ? • What are people’s motivations to gamble? • Are there other motivations than financial ones? • If yes, what are they? How can they be ordered or grouped together? • What do people expect to gain from gambling? • Are these expectations rational or irrational? • How can we think about meanings of rational & irrational?