Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 245–261 | Cite as

Irrational thinking among slot machine players

  • Michael B. Walker

Abstract

According to the cognitive perspective on gambling, regular gamblers persist in trying to win money at gambling because they hold a set of false beliefs about the nature of gambling, the likelihood of winning, and their own expertise. In order to investigate this claim, twenty seven university students were recruited who played one of three types of games at least twice a week: slot machines, video draw poker, and video amusement games. Subjects played their preferred machines on site (clubs, hotels and amusement arcades) first for at least thirty minutes and then the other two games for a minimum of twenty minutes each. During play, each subject spoke aloud into a microphone describing what he or she was doing or thinking about in the game. It was hypothesised that slot machine players would verbalise more irrational thinking than video poker or video amusement players and that slot machines would elicit more irrational thinking than video poker or video amusement machines. Most importantly, it was hypothesised that slot machine players would exhibit relatively greater amounts of irrational thinking when playing their preferred game. The data supported all three hypotheses. Out of all of the statements made by slot machine players when playing slot machines, 38% were categorised irrational. Furthermore, 80% of the strategic statements made by slot machine players while playing slot machines were categorised as irrational. These results are consistent with earlier work which showed high levels of irrational thinking in artificial gambling games. Together, the results provide support for a cognitive view of the origins of gambling problems.

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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael B. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SydneyCamperdown, SydneyAustralia

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