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The psychology of the near miss


Near misses are widely believed to encourage future play, even in games of chance where the probability of winning remains constant from trial to trial. Some commercial gambling systems, particularly instant lotteries and slot machines, are contrived to ensure a higher frequency of near misses than would be expected by chance alone. Theoretical interpretations and relevant experiments are examined. A distinction is drawn between possible short-term and longer-term effects of manipulating the rate of occurrence of near misses.

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The first four experiments reported in the text were carried out by Amanda Shattock, supported by a Grant from the Social Science Research Council.

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Reid, R.L. The psychology of the near miss. J Gambling Stud 2, 32–39 (1986).

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