In my first year of University, it was part of my course requirements to participate in “voluntary” psychology studies for course credit, and it was there that I met a student in the process of completing her Honours in Psychology. Her research revolved around the nature of addiction, and before you freak out, it was all very safe. Participants were exposed to a short gambling simulation where they were the gambler, and then another short simulation where they watched someone else call the shots. Being a part of these research studies also benefited us first-year Psychology students who had yet to be battered down by statistical programs and stacks upon stacks of peer-reviewed journal articles. She was nice enough to break down her research for me, and even years later, this is what I remember:
- People choose to gamble for one of two reasons: to elicit a positive response and arousal or to escape negative stress and obtain relief.
- Neither seems particularly more likely to cause addiction – they both attempt to make us feel better.
- Gambling for the first time can be your make or break.
Now I admit, I have gambled before. We were at the casino with my boyfriend’s family and I thought, why not? I felt immense separation anxiety after putting in my $5 note into the machine, and even though I managed to double that money to a whopping $10, I will never forget that anxiety that I felt at the thought of never getting that $5 back. Now you can call me pathetic, or incredibly strange for deciding to spend a “ridiculous amount” of money gambling if I could barely part with $5, but my logic is: if I have unforgettable separation anxiety over $5, then what more over, say, $100?
And no hate over my definition of “ridiculous amount”! In my budget, food rates pretty high up the list and $100 can buy a whooooooole lot of munchies.