Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 55–61 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Reinforcement and Gaming Machine Choice

  • John Haw
Original Paper


The present study assessed whether prior reinforcement experiences were related to gaming machine choice and the decision to change gaming machines during a session of gambling. Seventy undergraduate students (48 women, 22 men; mean age = 22.05 years) were presented with two visually identical simulated gaming machines in a practice phase. These simulated machines differed only in the rate of reinforcement. After the practice phase, participants were asked to choose a machine to play in the test phase and were allowed to change machines at will. Two measures of reinforcement were employed; frequency of wins and payback rate. Results indicated that neither measure of reinforcement was related to machine choice, but both were predictors of when participants changed machines. A post-hoc analysis of the 33 participants who changed machines during the test phase found a significant relationship between machine choice and prior reinforcement. For these participants, payback rate was significantly related to machine choice, unlike frequency of wins.


Reinforcement Win frequency Payback rate Gaming machine choice 


  1. Davey, G. (1989). Ecological learning theory. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Delfabbro, P. H., & Winefield, A. H. (1999). Poker machine gambling. An analysis of within session characteristics. British Journal of Psychology, 90, 425–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dickerson, M., & Baron, E. (2000). Contemporary issues and future directions for research into pathological gambling. Addiction, 95(8), 1145–1159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dickerson, M. G., Hinchy, J., England, S. L., Fabre, J., & Cunningham, R. (1992). On the determinants of persistent gambling I. High frequency poker machine players. British Journal of Psychology, 83, 237–248.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Dixon, M. R., MacLin, O. H., & Daugherty, D. (2006). An evaluation of response allocations to concurrently available slot machine simulations. Behavior Research Methods, 38(2), 232–236.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Dixon, M. R., & Schreiber, J. (2002). Using a computerized video poker simulation for the collection of experimental data on gambling behaviour. The Psychological Record, 52, 417–428.Google Scholar
  7. Grant, J. E., & Kim, S. W. (2004). Gender differences. In J. Grant, & M. N. Potenza (Eds), Pathological gambling: A clinical guide to treatment (pp. 97–109). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Griffiths, M. (1993). Fruit machine gambling: The importance of structural characteristics. Journal of Gambling Studies, 9(2), 101–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. MacLin, O. H., Dixon, M. R., & Hayes, L. J. (1999). A computerized slot machine simulation to investigate the variable involved in gambling behavior. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 31, 731–734.Google Scholar
  10. Weatherly, J. N., & Brandt, A. E. (2004). Participants’ sensitivity to percentage payback and credit value when playing a slot-machine simulation. Behavior and Social Issues, 13, 33–50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of Western SydneyPenrith South DCAustralia

Personalised recommendations