Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 965–970 | Cite as

Decision-making in state lotteries: Half now or all of it later?

  • Forest Baker
  • Matthew W. Johnson
  • Warren K. Bickel
Brief Reports


Many state lotteries offer players a choice between receiving roughly half of the jackpot immediately and receiving the entire jackpot over 25 annual payments. This requires players to make a decision that involves uncertainty, delay, and large amounts of real money. Archival data on lottery players’ jackpot payment decisions were collected from seven state and three multistate lotteries. Players’ jackpot payment preferences were assessed at the time of ticket purchase and after winning a jackpot. Preference for the annuity payment option significantly decreased as jackpot size increased, both at the time of ticket purchase and after winning. Furthermore, a significant proportion of winners who selected the annuity payment option at ticket purchase switched to the cash payment option after winning, whereas no winners switched from the cash to the annuity option after winning. These findings suggest that real-world choices involving large sums of money may be subject to diminishing marginal utility and probability and delay discounting.


Marginal Utility Delay Discount Discount Function Probability Discount Annuity Payment 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Forest Baker
    • 1
  • Matthew W. Johnson
    • 1
  • Warren K. Bickel
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VermontBurlington

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