University of Alberta Uses Pigeons to Study Gambling

Study Gambling

Gamblers are already aware that games with massive payoffs are more attractive to them. This is why you will see players deviating towards games that have large jackpots with huge winning potentials. Even though games that pay less are easier to win, players will spend more of their time going for the big score. “Go big or go home” is the saying that is often used.

The University of Alberta was curious about this behavior and they decided to investigate it. Instead of using humans as a test subject, they did their study on pigeons. Their discovery concluded that pigeons, just like humans, are almost 40% more likely to take a big risk if they know that there is a huge reward at the end of it.

Through a mixture of evolution and intuition, both pigeons and humans have vivid memories of the times they won big and lost big. If they were going after something very important, but failed, that will stick with them forever. In contrast, minor losses and wins do not register the same level of excitement or sadness. These emotions can help us understand why people gamble the way they do.

What game do most Canadians play when they visit a casino? The answer is slots. It might not be the most exciting or mentally stimulating game, but it comes with the chance to win a huge jackpot. That is why Canadians always go towards the slots when they enter a casino.

The reason is not because of the shiny lights on the slots or the fancy pictures that come up every time you push down a level. The reason is very simple: we enjoy the possibility of winning large. If slots only offered $1,000 as a grand prize, very few people would play. When the prize becomes $100,000 or $1,000,000, everyone wants a part of that action.

Studies performed on pigeons showed similar behavior. If a dangerous environment was set up, the pigeon was far more likely to take a big risk for a major prey rather than for a small prey.

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