by:Nancy Greer, Matthew J. Rockloff
One component of social facilitation on gambling is the potential for an audience of people to observe the play of Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) gamblers and influence their behaviour without participating directly in gambling themselves. An experiment was conducted with an audience of onlookers, purported to be students of research methods, taking notes while watching the participants play an EGM. Forty-three male and 82 female participants (N = 125), aged 18–79 (M = 49.2, SD = 15.6), played a laptop simulated 3-reel EGM using a $20 stake in three conditions: (1) alone, (2) watched by a simulated audience of six persons, or (3) watched by an audience of 26. Outcomes on the poker machine were rigged with a fixed sequence of five wins in the first 20 spins and indefinite losses thereafter. The results found smaller bet-sizes associated with larger audiences of onlookers, and this outcome is consistent with a hypothesized motivation to display more wins to the audience. Moreover, final payouts were greater in the audience conditions compared to the control, further suggesting that an audience may be a protective factor limiting player losses.
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