Expressing gambling-related cognitive biases in motor behaviour: Rolling dice to win prizes

Abstract

Cognitive perspectives on gambling propose that biased thinking plays a significant role in sustaining gambling participation and, in vulnerable individuals, gambling problems. One prominent set of cognitive biases include illusions of control involving beliefs that it is possible to influence random gaming events. Sociologists have reported that (some) gamblers believe that it is possible to throw dice in different ways to achieve gaming outcomes (e.g., ‘dice-setting’ in craps). However, experimental demonstrations of these phenomena are lacking. Here, we asked regular gamblers to roll a computer-simulated, but fair, 6 sided die for monetary prizes. Gamblers allowed the die to roll for longer when attempting to win higher value bets, and when attempting to hit high winning numbers. This behaviour was exaggerated in gamblers motivated to keep gambling following the experience of almost-winning in gambling games. These results suggest that gambling cognitive biases find expression in the motor behaviour of rolling dice for monetary prizes, possibly reflecting embodied substrates.

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