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By Science Daily
Pathological gamblers “see” patterns in things that are actually quite random and not really there, to such a degree that they are quite willing to impulsively bet good money on such illusory nonrandomness. This is confirmed by Wolfgang Gaissmaier of the University of Konstanz in Germany and Andreas Wilke of Clarkson University in the USA, leaders of a study in Springer’s Journal of Gambling Studies that sheds light on why some people are gamblers and others not.
The findings of the study add to a large body of research that suggests that cognitive distortions (or people’s warped thinking), play an important role in pathological gambling. It provides further evidence for the assumption that gamblers are particularly prone to perceiving illusory patterns and are more impulsive than others.
Gaissmaier and Wilke’s team focused on probability matching, an anomaly of choice that is related to the perception of illusory patterns. In a laboratory setting, the researchers compared the betting habits of 91 habitual gamblers against 70 community members. Participants were shown a picture of a casino and two slot machines and had to predict on many trials whether a coin would be obtained from the slot machine on the right or the left. The probability of winning was higher on one slot machine (67 percent winning chance) than on the other (33 percent winning chance), and the order of outcomes was completely random.
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