Investigating the illusion of control in mildly depressed and nondepressed individuals during video-poker play

Holly Dannewitz, Jeffrey N Weatherly
Journal of Psychology 2007, 141 (3): 307-19
Cognitive fallacies, such as the illusion of control, and psychological disorders, such as depression, may perpetuate gambling and thus contribute to problem gambling (e.g., R. Ladouceur, C. Sylvan, C. Boutin, & C. Doucet, 2002). Gender differences may exist across these variables (e.g., N. M. Petry, 2005). The authors investigated these possibilities by recruiting mildly depressed and nondepressed individuals to play jacks or better, 5-card draw, video poker. Across three poker sessions, participants were given (a) no choice of which cards to play, (b) information on the best cards to play but control over which cards were played, or (c) no information and complete control over which cards were played. The total amount of money gambled increased as control over the game decreased, but this result correlated with an increase in the rate of play. Depressed and nondepressed participants did not differ in how they gambled, but men gambled significantly more and sometimes made more mistakes during play than did women. These results question the role of the illusion of control and depression in perpetuating gambling. They also suggest that providing players information about which cards to play may indirectly promote gambling and provide insight as to why men are more prone to suffer from gambling problems than are women.

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