Researchers question “near miss” problem gambling theory

Home » Researchers question “near miss” problem gambling theory

Problem gamblers are not being swayed by “near misses” to continue using slot machines according to a new study. A recent study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies proved that slot manufacturers engineer their machines to ring even when there is no monetary payoff. Studies have suggested that the signals encourage problem gamblers to continue by signalling a “near miss”.

According to The Near-Miss Effect in Slot Machines, a review and experimental analysis over half a century later in which University of Alberta researchers used homing pigeons and human subjects in order to prove their reactions to coming close.

The authors highlighted that the results of the research “questions the underlying premise that conditional reinforcement by near-miss stimuli should increase persistence of gambling behavior” and suggested that “near-miss research may have been misguided from the start.”

Near misses can be linked with heightened brain activity as well as elevated heart rates. Researcher Jeffrey Pislak told Medical Xpress that casinos have no shortage of tools at their disposal for convincing people to part with their cash “near-misses may not be one of them for most people.”

Pislak have cautioned that his group’s study was unable to replicate the near-miss effect “doesn’t mean people are any less vulnerable to exploitation by other means.”

Another study which was published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) stated that people are prone to making riskier decisions when the area of their brain that regulates dopamine production is in a low state of activity.

The researchers deduced that the subjects minute by minute variations in dopamine production are a product of evolution which allows humans to be “more unpredictable and better able to cope with a changing world.”


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