The effects of near wins and near losses on self-perceived personal luck and subsequent gambling behavior
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AbstractWhich person would be most likely to continue gambling? A person who has just experienced a big win or a person who has just experienced a big loss? The answer appears often to be whichever gambler feels personally luckier. Two experiments investigated how perceptions of luck, understood as a personal quality, are affected by near, but unrealized outcomes during a game of chance. In Experiment 1, a near big loss at a gambling game heightened perceptions of personal luck relative to a near big win, even though all participants actually won the same modest amount. In addition, participants who experienced a near big loss generated significantly more downward counterfactuals than did those participants in the near big win condition. Most importantly, differences in self-perceived luck influenced future gambling behavior. Participants who experienced a near big loss on a wheel-of-fortune wagered significantly more on the outcome of a subsequent game of roulette than did those participants who experienced a near big win. Experiment 2 extended these results by testing the possible influence of a different type of near outcome and by including a control group. The discussion focuses on the emerging picture of how people understand luck. © 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.
SponsorshipThe research was supported in part by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship (#752- 2000-1333) to the first author, a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (#410-92-0464) to the second author, and a research grant from the Alberta Gaming Research Institute to both authors.
Reprinted from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology with permission from Elsevier.