Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 265–276 | Cite as

The effects of statistical fluctuations and perceived status of a competitor on the illusion of control in experienced gamblers

  • Robert B. Breen
  • Michael L. Frank


An experiment in gambling behavior was conducted under the most realistic conditions possible in our laboratory. Not only was there a significant monetary prize offered
but subjects believed that they could be eliminated by a competitor. Subjects were 45 adults (25 females & 20 males; age range=23 to 73, mean age=51). Subjects were pitted in a gambling game against either a formidable or a vulnerable competitor. The competitor was a confederate playing one of the roles. The subjects either enjoyed a statistically favorable sequence of outcomes or suffered through a statistically negative sequence. In other words, they were made to lose badly, or made to win significantly. The object was to determine the effects of statistical fluctuations and the perceived status of a competitor on the illusion of control as measured by magnitude of risk taking. We hypothesized that we would see greater risks taken against a vulnerable competitor and during the favorable sequence, while lesser risks would be taken against a formidable competitor and an unfavorable sequence. However, neither variable was found to significantly effect the subjects on these measures. Unexpectedly, we identified a significant effect with respect to the number of wagers. It was found that subjects took significantly higher risks as a function of exposure to the gambling situation, without respect to conditions.


Statistical Fluctuation Experienced Gambler 
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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert B. Breen
    • 1
  • Michael L. Frank
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PsychologyStockton State CollegePomona

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