Slot Machine Psychology


A position in a group, series, or sequence. Also used: slotted, slit, opening, hole, berth, position, window, niche

While most gamblers view gambling as harmless entertainment, a small percentage of players suffer severe problems with gambling behavior (e.g., financial debt, relationship conflicts, and professional difficulties) that may lead to criminal activity and self-destructive behaviors (Blaszczynski et al., 2005). The allure of slot machines is a subject of interest in research on gambling psychology because it represents a popular form of escapism that can be played on the Internet, in arcades, and at home.

In a slot machine, a pay line is a set of symbols that cross the reels and determine the amount of money won. The number of symbols must match those listed on the pay table to win. A machine may have multiple pay lines, each with a different symbol or a wild symbol that can substitute for any other symbol in a winning combination.

While the original research reported in this article was based on an experiment using sound to manipulate the perception of wins and losses in slot machines, the results can be applied to other types of gaming, as well as to other media, such as television shows, movies, and video games. This article presents the results of two studies that used the same methodology and instruments to evaluate the effects of sound on gamblers’ responses to slot machine sounds. Both studies found that the sounds of a slot machine are effective in altering gamblers’ expectations about the size of their wins and their feelings of enjoyment while playing the game.