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Near-wins and near-losses in gambling: a behavioral and facial EMG study.



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Wu, Yin 
van Dijk, Eric 
Clark, Luke 


This study investigated responses to near-wins (i.e., nonwin outcomes that were close to a major win, and their counterpart, near-losses (nonwin outcomes that are proximal to a major loss) in a decision-making task, measuring (a) luck ratings, (b) adjustment of bet amount, and (c) facial muscle reactivity at zygomaticus and corrugator sites. Compared to full-misses, near-wins decreased self-perceived luck and near-losses increased self-perceived luck, consistent with the effects of upward versus downward counterfactual thinking, respectively. Wins and losses both increased zygomaticus reactivity, and losses selectively enhanced corrugator reactivity. Near-wins heightened zygomaticus activity, but did not affect corrugator activity, thus showing a similar response pattern to actual wins. There were no significant facial EMG effects of near-losses. We infer that near-wins engender some appetitive processing, despite their objective nonwin status.


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Cognitive distortion, Electromyography, Gambling, Near-miss, Risk taking, Adult, Decision Making, Electromyography, Facial Muscles, Female, Gambling, Humans, Male, Reward, Risk-Taking, Young Adult

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Medical Research Council (G0001354)
Wellcome Trust (093875/Z/10/Z)
Medical Research Council (G1000183)
This work was completed within University of Cambridge Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (director: TW Robbins), supported by a consortium award from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust. Y.W. was supported by a Chinese Scholarship Council – Cambridge International Scholarship and the Treherne Studentship in Biological Sciences from Downing College, Cambridge. The Centre for Gambling Research at UBC is supported by an award from the British Columbia Lottery Corporation and the British Columbia Government.