, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 63-72
Date: 09 Feb 2010

Gambling on Electronic Gaming Machines is an Escape from Negative Self Reflection

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An experiment tested whether thinking about oneself, particularly in negative terms, increases gambling intensity on Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs). Forty male and 65 Female participants, aged 18–76 (M = 46.2, SD = 15.3), were recruited through newspaper advertisements to play a laptop simulated EGM in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Prior to play, subjects in the test conditions audio tape-recorded 2 min of self reflection on either: (1) “things you like about yourself,” or (2) “things you don’t like about yourself.” Immediately after the recordings, the subjects played an EGM that was programmed (rigged) with five wins in the first 20 spins, and indefinite losses thereafter. Participants gambled more intensively in terms of Average Bet Size, Number of Trials Played, and Speed of Betting in the negative self reflection condition compared to the control condition. The experiment supports the proposition that EGM gambling behavior is motivated by escape from negative self reflection.