The psychology of gambling

The psychology of gambling

In connection with gambling and psychology there are two notions that journalists find essential to mention every time they produce an article on the topic. One of them usually deals with the negative effects of gambling on the human psyche and highlights the fact that gambling can lead to addiction which is a kind of illness and should be taken as seriously as cancer, for example. The other one casts the spotlight on the brighter side of gambling and online gambling. In such writings the positive effects of gambling like making friends, socializing, feeling thrilled and in case of online gambling playing from a comfortable armchair are emphasized. No doubt, both of these fields are irrevocably associated with gambling and it is not necessarily a problem.

However, for some people, there is a different idea associated with the expressions psychology and gambling. Namely, the spiritual background. Why and how does it happen? Why does a person get used to gambling so much that he is unable to leave the mobile casinos and switch off his mobile phone? There must be some phases behind this phenomenon since this is a process and it does not evolve from one day to the other.

First of all, there is the desire to gamble. Without being interested in gambling or online gambling there is no way that a person gets involved in playing at either land based or online/mobile casinos. You will be surprised but the desire to gamble is a primal one. The whole life of ours is nothing else but a huge gambling show. From early stages of life babies experiment or rather gamble to collect experience. What do we mean by that? Children learn not to touch a hot iron if they experience that it is really hot. Of course, they are told in advance not to do so but their own perception is the one that convinces them for good. In their heads there is an equal chance for the iron to be hot or cold before trying. Some years later when toddlers become teenagers and ask out a member of the opposite sex they are gambling again. They might either win or lose but a chance must be given to be successful. As adults, we do the same when change our jobs, habitats, cars or even our partners. If things do not work out to our benefit we are willing to continue to do them again and again as long as the desired outcome is not reached. In other words, gamblers who tend to lose all the time still keep betting and risking in the hope of winning the invested sum of money back.

From here we got to a second explanation that seems to be a bit more scientific that the first one. This one is called conditioning, i.e., when any kind of reward is paired with a behaviour that encourages the repetition of that given conduct. Does it ring a bell? Yes, you are right; the famous experiment of Pavlov and his dogs is exactly about this. The Russian psychologist used a bell as a neutral stimulus any time he gave food to the dogs. After a while he just rang the bell but no food was provided and the dogs’ salivation still increased. From this Pavlov deducted that the sound of the bell and food is associated with each other in the dogs’ minds and a new behaviour is learned. Gambling works the same way. Players are rewarded financially when they get lucky and they continue to enter their online accounts on their mobile devices even when they lost all their bets previously.

Visiting the  casino again and again in spite of incurred losses comes from the intermittent conditioning. It is possible that the gambler wins at the beginning then this lucky period is followed by a no reward tract of time and then the behaviour might extinct and he must learn that reward is not necessarily provided. Nevertheless, if he wins intermittently, that is, sometimes wins and sometimes loses, the behaviour will probably not extinct easily since he knows that perhaps next time when he visits the casino the reward is forthcoming.

That is the essence of psychology of gambling and the reason why it is really difficult to quit. Any game you play, the light is always flashing in front of your eyes that perhaps the next big win is yours, and that is why you are willing to tap your mobile device in the hope of becoming a millionaire one day.

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