Human evolution influences gambling decisions

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 15:18

Washington: New research from an international team of scientists may help explain why some treatment options for problem gamblers often don`t work.

Their findings suggests that evolution, or basic survival techniques adapted by early humans, influences the decisions gamblers make when placing bets.

For the study, scientists from McMaster University, the University of Lethbridge and Liverpool John Moores University examined how gamblers made decision after they won or lost.

They found that, like our ancestors, the gamblers relied on their past experiences to predict what might happen in the future. But in games of chance where the outcome is completely random, this strategy doesn`t work.

"If you are tossing a coin and it turns up heads five times in a row, we have this strong feeling that it will turn up tails on the sixth try," explained Jim Lyons, an associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster University and lead researcher on the project. "But the chances are still exactly 50-50."

"The results of our work suggest, perhaps for the first time, that certain aspects of problem gambling behaviour may be related to hard-wired, basic neurobiological factors related to how we direct our attention," he added.

The study was recently published in Frontiers in Psychology.


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First Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 15:18

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