Why do people continue to play the Lottery even though they know they probably won’t win?
Almost everyone that decides to play the lottery doesn’t assume that they will win, especially not on their first purchase. This is known, but the lotto remains as popular as ever, so why do people keep paying and playing.
The cost to play the Oz Lotto $1, certain places it is more than this but on the whole, $1. The odds of winning the jackpot are low, around 1 in 45 million. Despite the size of these odds, a lot of people still plat the Oz Lotto online every week. Even though they know that their chances of winning the division 1 prize is slim, they still continue to buy tickets on a regular basis.
In fact, if we look at the pure numbers to derive what is more/less likely then we find out that many things are more likely than winning the lottery – for example, you are more likely to be struck by lightning that win a jackpot.
So, if winning the jackpot or top tier prize is so unlikely, why is it still so popular to play the lotto?
You would think that something that is almost certainly not going to occur & it costs to play would be something that rational humans would avoid. However, we know that this is not the case, so let’s look into the evolutionary basis to this phenomenon.
Below are some of the reasons why people play the Oz lotto, or the Lottery in General
The near miss effect is particularly powerful in games of skill or the business world. In games such as this, as near miss is an evolutional trigger that you are on the right path and close to your intended goal. This instills in the player the idea that success is close and perseverance will result in success. in the future and reinstalls to the brain that if you do basically the same as what you just did, the outcome will be similar, if not closer that previous efforts.
This psychological effect happens the same with non-skilled games and can be extrapolated to the lottery and the experience of lotto players. A near miss, such as hitting 3/6 or 4/6 of the Oz Lotto numbers will actually trigger the same pleasure/pain reward system as with near misses in a skill based game such as archery. The closer you are to the target, the closer you are to the jackpot.
The striking difference here is the variable of skill. The skill required to hit the bullseye is the same, no matter when, where or how the target is set up. For the lottery, there is no correlative skill that indicates progression. The unconscious brain does not see this, and while the conscience brain does, it is conflicted due to the pleasure/pain reward system that has been built evolutionary over many, many years.
The Fallacy of the Sunken Cost:
A sunk cost is something that you have already paid and cannot be retrieved back. An example of a sunken cost in economic terms can be explained via poker. If you are playing Texas hold’em and you bet on the first two round but you don’t have anything strong with one card to go – you may consider matching the raise for the last round even though you are pretty sure you won’t win. In this example, you are viewing your previous two bets in this specific hand as being a sunk cost, not only have you already paid it but it psychologically makes it feel like playing the last round is cheaper. You don’t consider the overall cost but rather the final cost.
This happens all the time in many aspects of life, the lottery being a specifically powerful example. If you have played the lottery for many years then you may see your previous ticket purchases as a sunk cost and this will therefore encourage you to continue buying as it becomes theoretically cheaper every week when you compare the outlay required to continue with the outlay you have made over the years.
The two examples above are the most prescient examples of the psychological effect and happenings of a lottery player. No matter which lottery, from the US Powerball to the Oz Lotto, these effects will be similar.