Against the odds : the sports gamblers attempt to overcome statistical probability
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This study has endeavored to discover the pertinent characteristics associated with sports gambling. Three variables appear to be especially prominent in the literature concerning gambling. Chasing one's losses is a gambling specific behavior that has been linked to pathological gambling (Lesieur, 1984). When gambler's chase their losses, they attempt to win back previously lost wagers with future gambles. In addition, previous research has focused on both the cognitive and decision making processes associated with gambling (Kahneman & Tversky, 1978; Langer, 1975). I have hypothesized that the manner in which cognitive processes, decision making, and chasing one's losses interact is a primary variable that contributes to pathological gambling. An additional hypothesis concerns the manner in which sports knowledge affects gambling behavior. The research described in this dissertation has attempted to examine the relevant cognitive and decision making processes associated with pathological gambling. Subjects engaged in gambling simulation over a six week period of time. This simulation replicated real-world gambling with the exception that money could not be lost. The top three winners were paid a percentage of their earnings in order to help insure internal validity. Results indicate that subjects with a high degree of sports knowledge gambled at a higher level and lost a greater amount of wagers than subjects with a low degree of sports knowledge. Implications associated with this include the possibility that individuals utilize knowledge as way to discount and distort statistical probabilities associated with gambling. In this study, cognition processes and decision making were not related to gambling outcomes.