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Cool Results From University of Alberta Gambling Study With Pigeons

By: Russell Potvin , Sat. Aug 09, 2014

Pigeons Gambling Study

Some people might say gambling is for the birds, and this study by the University of Alberta shows just how right they are.

Something that gamblers have known for a long time is that when you add a chance for a big reward, you're more likely to get in on the action. This is why people are attracted to big games with big jackpots moreso than games with smaller payouts, even if the average house advantage is larger. A recent study by the University of Alberta has shown some serious evidence to prove that this is a big deal. They found that both human beings and pigeons are about 35 percent more likely to take a major risk if they know there's a chance of a big payout.

When you have memories of big wins and big losses, that will drastically affect how you make future decisions. This is what researchers have found in this study of both humans and pigeons, and it shows that both groups have some sort of mechanism, probably driven by evolution, that causes this type of analysis to happen. This is some extremely interesting news, and it explains a lot about what we know about gambling behaviour.

For example, can you guess what the most popular type of game is for Canadian players in online casinos? The answer is slots, and it's not even close. Specifically, it's slots with a major jackpot that's either a progressive or above a 5,000x payout. The reason for this, as explained by this University of Alberta study, is that humans are more likely to gamble when they know there is a chance, however slight, of a major payout.

This makes a lot of sense, and it also illustrates why players are drawn to things like big deposit bonuses and other types of jackpots in games like lotteries and scratch offs. The basic idea is that it triggers something that both humans and pigeons have in common, but no matter what it is, it draws us to it. This explains why big jackpots and big prizes being available make games more attractive to us, and it helps us to understand that this is something that isn't unique to us as human beings.