Impulsivity, Flawed Reasoning, Gambling: Investing?

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Research led by the University of Cambridge has found a link between impulsivity and flawed reasoning (such as believing in superstitious rituals and luck) in problem gamblers.

  • Gamblers with higher levels of impulsivity were much more susceptible to errors in reasoning associated with gambling,
  • Such as superstitious rituals (e.g. Carrying a lucky charm) and explaining away recent losses (e.g. On bad luck or ‘cold’ machines)
  • The gamblers were significantly more likely to choose the immediate reward despite the fact that it was less money
  • Gamblers were particularly impulsive during high or low moods, which are frequently cues that can trigger gambling sprees.
  • Like treatment-seeking gamblers elsewhere in the world, the group from the National Problem Gambling Clinic were predominantly male, and experienced a moderate rate of other mental health problems including depression and alcohol abuse.

While aspects of the ‘addictive personality’ have been identified previously in studies of problem gambling, the novel finding in the British gamblers was that those gamblers with higher levels of impulsivity were also more susceptible to various errors in reasoning that occur during gambling, including an increase in superstitious rituals and blaming losses on such things as bad luck.

(Psychologists define impulsivity as a preference for the immediate smaller rewards on this task.)  Continue reading

Reality Check: Video Games May Help Kids Manage Feelings — Soldiers Too

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We always ssuspected that these games, like all games, help people role-play, try out fantasy things, so they can navigate their world and identities better — not do violence IRL (in the real world).

Academics are finding more and more evidence that violent games have a neutral, or even positive, influence on players.

  • gamers who played 50 hours of the first-person shooters Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament were significantly better at making quick, accurate decisions than those who played 50 hours of the nonviolent, slow-paced Sims 2.
  • post-war soldiers slept better at night and suffered fewer nightmares if they played combat games such as Call of Duty. This suggests that violent games might provide relief for other players who have experienced similar levels of stress.
  • any negative effects of violent games could be wiped out when gamers play cooperatively with friends or family
  • US counties with more videogame stores had lower juvenile violent-crime rates. In another study with similar findings, Ward went on to theorize that teens predisposed to unruly behavior may play violent videogames instead of getting aggressive in real life.

Most teens are surly sometimes. They talk back to their parents or pick on younger siblings. Among the teens I’ve surveyed, 71 percent said they use videogames to blow off steam. Another 14 percent said they’ve tried, but they don’t play well when they’re frustrated or angry. Continue reading

Reality Check: American’s Supernatural Beliefs

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“According to a 2009 Harris Poll of 2,303 adult Americans, when people are asked to “Please indicate for each one if you believe in it, or not,” the following results were revealing:

82% believe in God
76% believe in miracles
75% believe in Heaven
73% believe in Jesus is God or the Son of God
72% believe in angels
71% believe in survival of the soul after death
70% believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ
61% believe in hell
61% believe in the virgin birth (of Jesus)
60% believe in the devil
45% believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
42% believe in ghosts
40% believe in creationism
32% believe in UFOs
26% believe in astrology
23% believe in witches
20% believe in reincarnation

More people believe in angels and the devil than believe in the theory of evolution.”
— GALLUP, Paranormal Beliefs Come (Super)Naturally to Some
☞ See also: Evolution, the Muslim world & religious beliefs 
(statistics), Discovery Magazine, 2009 

“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.”— Richard P. Feynman

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