5 Psychological Reasons People Play the Lottery

5 Psychological Reasons People Play the Lottery

People play the lottery for a variety of reasons. Some might enjoy the suspense of not knowing what their ticket will win, and others hope to earn enough money to retire. Many people consider buying lottery tickets to be a fun and affordable form of entertainment, whether or not they win any money. Yet the decision to purchase tickets may be more complex than people realize, since several psychological factors contribute to playing the lottery.

One Dollar Is a Small Price To Pay

Image via Flickr by Lisa Brewster

State lottery tickets usually start at $1, making it easy to buy a ticket. Many people consider spending a few dollars on lottery tickets a worthwhile price to pay for the chance to win a much larger amount. Massive jackpots can turn you into a millionaire overnight. Since the cost of lottery tickets is so minimal, it’s easy to add these when purchasing items at a grocery store or gas station.

Lottery Tickets Are an Inexpensive Form of Entertainment

Playing the lottery is a cheap form of entertainment. For instance, it’s much cheaper to buy a lottery ticket than to go out to dinner or the movies. For two people to go to the theater and enjoy popcorn, candy, and drinks, it can cost over $50 in most areas of the U.S. But you can purchase a lottery ticket for just $1; up to 50 lottery tickets for the same amount as the movie. Also, going to a film doesn’t offer the chance to recoup any money, unlike playing the lottery.

There’s a Good Chance To Win Your Money Back

Many scratch tickets have a high probability of winning. Scratch cards list odds of winning on the back, and some California scratchers have odds as good as 1 in 3. Since winning tickets are dispersed randomly throughout a roll of scratch tickets, many customers feel that buying several consecutive tickets may improve the odds of winning.

Brain Chemicals Make Winning Addictive

Dopamine is a neurochemical the brain releases when we’re working towards a goal or expecting a reward. This addictive neurotransmitter drives people to continue playing the lottery and hoping for a chance to win. Researchers also find that winning can lead to feelings of euphoria and happiness. Once a person wins on a lottery ticket, they might be more likely to buy more tickets to try to win again. This chemical cycle in the brain psychologically reinforces the purchase of lottery tickets.

Just Being Close to Winning Makes People Feel Positive Emotions

According to the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience journal, even if you don’t have the winning lottery ticket, getting several winning numbers in a drawing causes a surge in positive emotions. These positive emotions can influence you to purchase more lottery tickets since there’s a chance you may get even more numbers in the next drawing and win. 

The chance to win thousands or millions of dollars might be one of the most compelling reasons to play the lottery. You can check lottery results from any digital device to see if you’ve won and explore other lottery news.

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