The Psychological Reasons Why We Play Lottery

Is it true that the majority of lottery players are poor, or is this a popular misconception? Sadly, statistics and common knowledge both tell the same tale. What motivates millions of people to spend their hard-earned cash on a ticket with a poor return on investment?   


The attraction of buying lottery tickets is easy to understand because the odds are purely far above our comprehension. People simply cannot comprehend 1 in 10 million. It’s just beyond our experience nothing there’s in history that helps prepare or activate us for it. Lotteries cause an anomaly in humans. Our inability to comprehend the odds, combined with several other biases, makes us believe in an extremely unlikely outcome.” These biases are not limited to the lotto jackpot period; they can influence any number of decisions that the ordinary citizen must make throughout the day. 

The Bandwagon Effect

The bandwagon effect defines as when people become engrossed in a popular activity it may persuade someone to purchase a lotto ticket because everyone else is doing so and they do not want to be left out. Economists have proposed that when individuals make rational choices based on information received from others, content spirals can quickly form in which people decide to ignore their personal information signals and follow the behavior of others.

The Near-Miss Effect / Illusion of control

The “near-miss” effect explains what happens once you believe you almost won and would like to try again even though you’re not even close. Overconfidence is a false belief that causes people to subconsciously pump up their odds in comparison to their objective odds. It works in conjunction with the illusion of control, which leads individuals to overlook their capacity to control events. This is the same concept that leads a fan to genuinely think that their good luck routine can influence a professional soccer game. People who choose their lottery numbers believe that their participation increases their chances of winning.

When these two beliefs combine, people believe they have a stronger chance of winning the lottery because they start believing they have control over their fate. The issue is that when individuals get half of the numbers correct, they believe they were close enough and immediately try to rejoin the lottery. So, while they may believe they have simply missed the target, the probability difference is in the hundreds of thousands.

Is it worthwhile to purchase a ticket?

There are far more severe types of betting, and the harm caused by playing the lottery and losing $10 is minor.  It’s important to understand that playing the lotto is simply a source of entertainment – you pay $10 for the opportunity to fantasize about becoming a millionaire. “When participants were primed to believe that their income was poor in comparison to an implicit benchmark, they were far more likely to buy lottery tickets.” The fact that “when they contemplated situations in which rich people or poor people enjoy benefits does have an equal chance of winning the lottery” led consumers to buy tickets. Even many average people, however, purchase lottery tickets regularly.


If you lose money by playing the lottery, you could feel like you’re getting lousy advice. Of course, there is no such thing as perfect lottery advice because it is all based on luck! However, because of our proclivity to concentrate on the result, we find it difficult to accept this. For all of these reasons, we continue to play, and we continue to play in unusual and imaginative ways. However, we’re getting a psychological high out of it, so there’s no harm done – especially if the money goes to a good cause. Simply attempt to comprehend your impulses and accept your eventual helplessness in the presence of such overwhelming odds.

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