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The Psychology of Fruit Machine Gambling.

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Kevin Walker The Psychology of Fruit Machine Gambling Sept 2003 The article overviews how individuals are induced to gamble in the first place (novice), develop a perceived ability to beat the machine (perceived skill) and how they are induced to continue gambling through an array of structural characteristics aimed at different psychological aspects of the participants gambling development. The article examines the above by considering the effects of behavioural conditioning and the use of psychology whether it was intentional of fortuitous. To consider the validity of the article it is important to examine the approach taken by the authors i.e. it is behavioural conditioning that that induces people to start gambling and to develop an addiction. Additionally, it is important to consider what other psychological prospective could be affecting the desire to gamble on fruit machines. For example are there biological, psychodynamic or cognitive factors or a mixture of all these theories that contribute to make people gamble regardless of their psychological, physiological and socio-economic status? In essence the behaviourist makes a number of assumptions that make us develop in to the person that we are by interacting with the environment through stimulation and reward. ...read more.


Once felt this likable feeling is a reward to a stimulus i.e. operant conditioning where a feeling of relief / distraction from the stress is the reward to a stimulus the thrill of playing the fruit machine. This interaction of biological (inherited predisposition) and behavioural (operant conditioning) goes to support that more than one prospective can contribute to a condition, habit, behaviour etc. In contrast to the behaviourist approach another perspective that can be considered is that of cognition which is concerned with the internal mental explanations of behaviour with its emphasis on passive responses to external events. Cognitive psychology has influenced almost all areas of psychology including theories of emotion, motivation attitude formation etc. Although no overall cognitive theory exists it is plausible that emotions due to winning or the motivation and competitive drive of taking on and beating the machine could be determining factors. The theory of the cognitive perspective is mechanistic and that we act like a computer in that we take in information, process that information and can retrieve the information in its original form (or as a schema). ...read more.


Alternatively, they may rationalise their behaviour to satisfy unconscious motives e.g. taking out stress and aggression on the machine or diverting emotions of hate and/or aggression away from a loved one by taking out heir anger by aggressively playing the fruit machine and blaming their feelings on losing. In conclusion, the article makes some good points about the structural characteristics of the fruit machine playing to our behavioural patterns to keep us gambling. However, its assertion that more work is needed to pin point which structural characteristics are most likely to affect addiction is a reductionist view in that it assumes our behaviours alone will determine which of the structural characteristics will cause addiction. In my opinion the machine characteristics, colours, sounds, lights familiarity and the environment are influencing factors and they do affect our behaviour. However, it is to reductionistic and deterministic to conclude that these are the only factors that lure us to start gambling then develop an addiction. Other factors such as our emotional state, moral values, personality and genetic make up must all be considered to understand the complex reasons why we gamble to differing degrees. 1503 words. ...read more.

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