2020 Volume 37, Issue 2, p403-425
Losses disguised as wins (LDWs) are slot machine outcomes where players gain fewer credits than they wager. Despite being losses, slot machines celebrate LDWs with positive sounds and animations, leading gamblers to respond to them as wins. It is unknown how manipulating the sound following LDWs may influence gamblers' behaviour. In Experiment 1, participants played two conditions on a realistic slot machine simulator: a (standard) positive sound condition (LDWs paired with positive sound, losses paired with silence), and a negative sound condition (LDWs and losses paired with negative sound). We measured participants' behavioural responses [post-reinforcement pauses (PRPs)], win estimates, and subjective experience. In the negative sound condition, participants behaviourally responded to LDWs in a more loss-like and less win-like fashion, as measured by PRPs. Win estimates were reduced, and subjective experience was significantly impacted, but only when the negative sound condition was played second. In Experiment 2, we employed a much more subtle manipulation, pairing only LDWs with negative sound, and observed similar effects. Through these two experiments, we show that pairing LDWs with negative sound is an effective way to modify players' responses to LDWs, causing them to respond to them more like the losses they are, rather than the wins they seem.
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