No one likes to lose, even pathologically obsessed players
And yet they keep betting.
So why try your luck again and again, if the casino will still win, and not the player?
People experiencing an irresistible craving for gambling say that even after a series of losses, they still return to the card table or slot machine to experience vivid emotions.
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“I always wanted to play,” the former gamer recalled in an interview with Scientific American magazine in 2013. “I loved this process and the ecstasy I experienced during the game.”
Recently, one of the top managers from Wall Street admitted that he fraudulently lured $ 100 million from relatives, friends and clients.
“I needed money to satisfy my need for the game,” he explained in court.
But if the game brings only losses, and because of gambling addiction you can lose your job or home, is it worth the short-term pleasure of such sacrifices?
To get pleasure, both the game process and the winnings are equally important
First of all, it is worth noting that winning in this case is not the most important thing. Mark Griffiths, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University and a specialist in behavioral addictions, says that players explain their addiction for many reasons.
A survey of 5,500 players showed that their main motive was the opportunity to “win big money”. Nevertheless, by a very small margin, he was followed by arguments such as “it’s fun” and “it’s exciting.”
“Even if you lose in a gambling game, your body still produces adrenaline and endorphins,” he says. “People come to gambling establishments to have fun.”
- These conclusions are confirmed by a 2009 study conducted by scientists from Stanford University in California.
- They found out that about 92% of people have a “loss limit”, at which they stop playing.
However, the fact of losing money after going to the casino, for example, did not always affect their overall impressions of the game.
“Apparently, people are happy with relatively small gains and are willing to put up with small losses,” says study co-author Sridhar Narayanan. “As a rule, they understand that in the long run they are likely to lose, not win.”
The pleasure of winning can be stronger after a long series of losses
The pleasure of winning can be much stronger after a long series of losses
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We quickly, simply and clearly explain what happened, why it is important and what will happen next. In addition, losing can, at least for a short time, enhance the positive emotions of winning. The reason for this lies in the change in the expectations of the players during the losing streak. Robb Routledge, a neuroscientist at University College London, and his colleagues conducted an experiment involving 26 people.
People were offered situations in which they had to make a choice leading either to a certain or an uncertain result – that is, in fact, it was a game. During the experiment, participants’ brains were scanned. They were also asked to rate their sense of pleasure after every second or third attempt.
A similar experiment, but without a brain scan, was conducted using a smartphone app called The Great Brain Experiment. More than 18 thousand people took part in it.
- The study brought many interesting results: for example, scientists found that the less participants expected to win, the more they were happy about it.
- This was evidenced by the own assessment of the subjects, and the data obtained as a result of brain scans.
- Thanks to the scanning, scientists were able to detect increased activity in the area of the brain associated with dopamine neurons.
Dopamine, which is a complex neurotransmitter, in this case could cause changes in the emotional state of the participants. After a series of losses, expectations decrease, and a person feels much happier when he finally wins,” says Routledge.
That alone sounds tempting. “If several troubles happen to you in a row, and your expectations decrease, and then you manage to achieve good results, your sense of satisfaction is likely to be more acute,” he explains. “Although at this stage, it’s probably worth quitting the game.”
But are devices like slot machines capable of manipulating our consciousness?
- Even the colors used in the development of slot machines can serve as an important enticing factor
- Even the colors used in slot machines can serve as an important enticing factor
Griffiths is the author of works on the topic of the features of slot machines and their impact on players. At the moment, little is known about how their design affects people’s behavior, but, for example, many vending machines are decorated in red.
Red is widely used in casinos, as it is considered exciting
In addition, sound plays an important role. Griffiths wondered whether the replicas of the characters of the games in the slot machines are capable of provoking players.
So, for example, the character of the Simpsons family game Waylon Smithers, when losing, can say: “You’re fired!” According to the hypotheses underlying the theory of frustration and cognitive regret, this can make playing on electronic slot machines more attractive,” Griffiths writes in one of his articles.
The key factor determining the ability of gambling to be addictive is the frequency with which players can place bets. Griffiths argues that it is the number of possible rewards that attracts people with gambling addiction, and not the money actually won or even the type of gambling.
In addition, games and slot machines are often designed in such a way as to maintain the interest of the player, offering him a kind of substitute for winning, for example, crediting an additional amount to the account or, in case of loss, the opportunity to win more than usual next time. “If you offer a player a lot of small rewards during the game – not necessarily monetary ones – he will definitely respond to them,” says Griffiths.
The most powerful factor may be the process of the game itself
An interesting fact is that in some cases, players may try to develop a “pseudo-skill” in order to justify their desire to receive additional rewards. Griffiths cites British slot machines with adaptive logic as an example. This means that for a certain period the amount of winnings on them exceeds the amount of losses, but then their generosity gradually wanes.
In this regard, some players are trying to determine which machines can give out a big win, hoping that they will be able to hit the jackpot. All this indicates that winning is far from the main thing in gambling. The game process itself is important, as well as all the accompanying factors that make it so exciting.
Of course, this is not the only explanation for the pathological addiction to games, since addiction is usually formed under the influence of a number of reasons. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know how the style and structure of a particular game affect the player’s level of excitement.
After all, even if gambling addiction is not painful, those who come home with empty pockets still find something fascinating in them. So, the question “bet on red or on black?” doesn’t seem to make much sense. After all, this is not so important for the player.