The influence of near-miss outcomes on the physiological and subjective experience of scratch card gambling


Scratch cards are an omnipresent gambling form in the Canadian marketplace that contain a special type of outcome called a near-miss. A near-miss is an outcome that appears to come close to a large win, but falls short (e.g.uncovering 2 of the 3 needed jackpot symbols). In slot machine research, these outcomes have been shown to have negative effects on the player. Despite this, there is a paucity of knowledge about the effects of near-misses in scratch cards. We investigate the physiological experience of various scratch card outcomes, by measuring heart rate and skin conductance changes during gameplay (Experiments 1 and 2), and subjective appraisals of various outcome types (losses, wins, and near-misses) following the completion of game play (Experiment 1) and individual outcomes (Experiment 2). Our results indicate that near-misses are highly arousing (both physiologically and subjectively), frustrating, and negatively valenced outcomes that paradoxically increase the urge to gamble. Implications for the study of near-misses in gambling research and gambling motivation are discussed.

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