Emotional and Social Factors influence Poker Decision Making Accuracy
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Poker is a social game, where success depends on both game strategic knowledge and emotion regulation abilities. Thus, poker provides a productive environment for studying the effects of emotional and social factors on micro-economic decision making. Previous research indicates that experiencing negative emotions, such as moral anger, reduces mathematical accuracy in poker decision making. Furthermore, various social aspects of the game—such as losing against “bad players” due to “bad luck”—seem to fuel these emotional states. We designed an Internet-based experiment, where participants’ (N = 459) mathematical accuracy in five different poker decision making tasks were assessed. In addition, we manipulated the emotional and social conditions under which the tasks were presented, in a 2 × 2 experimental setup: (1) Anger versus neutral emotional state—participants were primed either with an anger-inducing, or emotionally neutral story, and (2) Social cue versus non-social cue—during the tasks, either an image of a pair of human eyes was “following” the mouse cursor, or an image of a black moving box was presented. The results showed that anger reduced mathematical accuracy of decision making only when participants were “being watched” by a pair of moving eyes. Experienced poker players made mathematically more accurate decisions than inexperienced ones. The results contribute to current understanding on how emotional and social factors influence decision making accuracy in economic games.
KeywordsPoker Decision making Emotions Anger
We wish to thank the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, the Kone Foundation, and the Academy of Finland for their financial support in this project. We also wish to thank the following Finnish poker communities for their interest in our research: www.pokerisivut.com, www.pokeritieto.com and www.pokerista.net. We would like to thank Arttu Manninen (firstname.lastname@example.org) for writing the code for the eye stimulus. Lastly, we are grateful to Apophenia for providing us with ideas and inspiration.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Participation in this Internet-based study was voluntary, and the anonymity of all respondents was guaranteed. Information provided by respondents will be used only for scientific purposes.
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