A new Carnegie Mellon University study sheds light on the reasons why low-income lottery players eagerly invest in a product that provides poor returns.
In the study, published in the July issue of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, participants who were made to feel subjectively poor bought nearly twice as many lottery tickets as a comparison group that was made to feel subjectively more affluent. The Carnegie Mellon findings point to poverty's central role in people's decisions to buy lottery tickets.
"Some poor people see playing the lottery as their best opportunity for improving their financial situations, albeit wrongly so," said the study's lead author Emily Haisley,a doctoral student in the Department of Organizational Behavior and Theory at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business. "The hope of getting out of poverty encourages people to continue to buy tickets, even though their chances of stumbling upon a life-changing windfall are nearly impossibly slim and buying lottery tickets in fact exacerbates the very poverty that purchasers are hoping to escape."
Okay, so now we know what we already knew -- but we also know that there really is a magazine for everything. Be sure to pick up your copy of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making for the full results.