Title

All’s Not Fair in this Game of War: Superstitious Behavior brought on by Gambling Desperation

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Psychology

Minor

Biology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Jana Hackathorn, PhD; Patrick Cushen, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Superstitious behavior, or a strong conviction that one’s actions have a cause-effect association between two unrelated events (Joukhador, Blaszczynski, & Maccallum, 2004) has often been associated with gambling (Ohtsuka & Chan, 2010; Griffiths & Bingham, 2005; Burger, 1991). Games of chance can produce an air of high stakes and uncertainty resulting in a desire for control (Burger, 1991). Those who gamble often believe that even chance games can be controlled, through skill or supernatural means (Kallmen, Andersson, & Andren, 2008).

We predict that as desperation, or a feeling of distress followed by an urgent need for relief (Garlow et al., 2008) increases an individual will be more likely to display superstitious behaviors in order to regain control. To test our predictions, we have created a game of chance through the psychology software tool, E-Prime. We have developed a classic card game of “War” in which participants play against “the computer” by drawing supposedly random cards from a virtual deck. For each victory the participant wins $10 and loses $10 on a loss. Participants desperation will be measured throughout ten rounds and a superstitious behavior (e.g. knocking on wood) will be presented to the participant halfway through the game. The experimenter will watch for the superstitious behavior (and any others) as more losses occur. In the final session, to increase desperation, the participant will be told that the last round is an All-or-Nothing with a loss resulting in $0 and a win in $100 (loss occurs every time).

Spring Scholars Week 2018 Event

Psychology Department Panel: Projects In-Process

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All’s Not Fair in this Game of War: Superstitious Behavior brought on by Gambling Desperation

Superstitious behavior, or a strong conviction that one’s actions have a cause-effect association between two unrelated events (Joukhador, Blaszczynski, & Maccallum, 2004) has often been associated with gambling (Ohtsuka & Chan, 2010; Griffiths & Bingham, 2005; Burger, 1991). Games of chance can produce an air of high stakes and uncertainty resulting in a desire for control (Burger, 1991). Those who gamble often believe that even chance games can be controlled, through skill or supernatural means (Kallmen, Andersson, & Andren, 2008).

We predict that as desperation, or a feeling of distress followed by an urgent need for relief (Garlow et al., 2008) increases an individual will be more likely to display superstitious behaviors in order to regain control. To test our predictions, we have created a game of chance through the psychology software tool, E-Prime. We have developed a classic card game of “War” in which participants play against “the computer” by drawing supposedly random cards from a virtual deck. For each victory the participant wins $10 and loses $10 on a loss. Participants desperation will be measured throughout ten rounds and a superstitious behavior (e.g. knocking on wood) will be presented to the participant halfway through the game. The experimenter will watch for the superstitious behavior (and any others) as more losses occur. In the final session, to increase desperation, the participant will be told that the last round is an All-or-Nothing with a loss resulting in $0 and a win in $100 (loss occurs every time).