Summary of the study

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  • Created on: 07-05-10 16:12
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Name of study: The Role of Cognitive Bias and Skill in Fruit Machine Gambling
Author(s): Griffiths
Approach: Individual Differences
Background information (what theories/issues of previous research is the study based on?)
According to Griffiths someone who is addicted will display 6 characteristics or symptoms:
Characteristic/Symptom Description
Salience Addictive behaviour becomes so important to a person it starts to dominate their life, so
when they're not doing it they're thinking about it.
Euphoria "High" - experienced by people when they do what they're addicted to (rush/buzz).
Tolerance The more you have, the more you need. The addict will need increasing amounts of their
desired experience to get the same rush.
Withdrawal Symptoms Negative responses of the body to cessation or reduction of addictive stimulus.
Conflict Conflict with family, themselves resulting in social misery.
Relapse People who have been addicted in the past are likely to fall back into their old habits.
There are also two approaches: The Normative Approach ("common sense" people behave rationally and apply their
choices) and The Heuristics and Biases Approach.
Heuristics and Biases
The best way to understand thinking processes of gamblers.
Heuristics often give false impressions.
Gamblers tend to choose the wrong ones at precisely the wrong time.
Heuristic Description
Illusion of Control Behaviours which give you the illusion you're in control.
These make players think that there is skill involved.
E.g. favourite fruit machine.
Flexible Attributions Self-esteem is bolstered/
They attribute success onto their own skill and failure to some external
E.g. a loss is described as a near win.
Representativeness A belief that random events have a pattern.
E.g. coin tossing heads 9 times - increasingly likely tails will come up next.
Availability Bias People's judgements reflect the frequency of relevant instances.
E.g. people winning pools a lot - you may think it's more common than it
actually is.
Illusory Correlations People mistakenly believe that some events are correlated.
E.g. rolling a dice softly will get you lower numbers.
Fixation on Absolute Frequency Measuring success in terms of absolute rather than relative frequency.
E.g. gamblers may win a lot but relative to the number of times they gamble,
their success are small.
What were the aims and hypotheses of this study?
An investigation to compare the behaviour of RGs and NRGs fruit machine gambling.

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1. There would be no differences between RGs and NRGs on objective measures of skill.
2. RGs would produce more irrational verbalisation than NRGs when thinking aloud, e.g. Personification.
3. RGs would be more focused on the subjective skill of playing fruit machines than NRGs.
What were the IV+DV / IV's? (where appropriate e.g. in experimental research only)
IV = RG or NRG (naturally occurring)
DV = objective and subjective measures of skill
Controls =
1.…read more

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Mean age 23.4 years
Poster gathered the NRGs through Volunteer sampling
Griffiths recruited some via a gambler known to him - opportunity sampling
Opportunity Sampling Volunteer Sampling
Advantage Disadvantage Advantage Disadvantage
Easy method to collect the A biased method because Access to a variety of Sample is biased because
first participants you can the sample is drawn from a participants. participants are likely to be
find. small part of the target motivated and/or with
population. extra time on their hands
(volunteer bias).…read more

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List the findings:
Two main differences on objective skill level:
1. RGs significantly higher play rate than NRGs.
2. RGs who thought aloud had a significantly lower win rate in the number of gambles.
Three suggestions in irrational verbalisation between RGs and NRGs
Mean % total Mean % total
utterances utterances
made by each made by each
Ps RGs Ps NRGs
Personification 7.54 1.14
Explaining 3.12 0.41
Swearing at the 0.6 0.…read more

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RGs more focused on subjective skill of playing fruit In interviews the RGs all talked about skill in all three of
machines than NRGs. the main questions asked. Hypothesis three accepted.
What have the findings of this study told us about human behaviour? (I.e. nature vs. nurture, is it useful?)
Gamblers think that there is more skill involved when gambling.
They often use the wrong heuristics when gambling.…read more

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Type of data
Qualitative Quantitative
Irrational verbalisations such % of irrational
as "the machine likes me" verbalisations made by both
or "this fruity machine is groups and data based on
not in a good mood" behaviour observations.
Strength Weakness Strength Weakness
Gives us deep insight into It can be difficult to analyse Easy to compare ­ quickly to On its own wouldn't have
the actual thoughts of the the data.…read more

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Opportunity Encouraging
representation of they will have losses. This to average daily
participants' behaviour. could be done over a 1 out their gambling
month period, during which successes argued to
time the RGs and NRGs over a long be unethical.
would use the machine time. Higher
everyday with a stake of £5 potential for
each time and their attrition as it
objective measures of skill is
are tested. longitudinal.…read more


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