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Office Bets May Lead to Unhappiness

manOffice pools for the NCAA basketball tournament or Oscar contests have traditionally been viewed as a fun activity, a way to encourage bonding and relieve office stress.

Not according to the Journal of Consumer Research. A recent study suggests that betting on the outcome actually reduces people’s enjoyment of the events. Authors Naomi Mandel and Stephen M. Nowlis (Arizona State University) explore this phenomenon, and why these contests are so common.

“Nobody likes to be wrong. Once a person has committed to a predicted outcome, he’s set himself up for the possibility of looking like a fool. In other words, the fear of losing [known as] ‘anticipated regret’ may actually feel worse than losing itself.” Peoples’ worry about losing the bet tends to spoil the event for them.

The study was inspired by the researchers’ experience of participating in an office pool related to the CBS television show “ Survivor.” They noticed officemates’ increased stress after locking in predictions about the show. They designed a series of experiments where they asked participants to predict or not predict the outcome of game shows and marble games.

How does the unhappiness associated with betting coexist with the growing popularity of office pools and tournament prediction contests? The researchers found that participants expected that betting on events would enhance their viewing experience, though the actual effects were the opposite.

“In a wide range of studies, people have been shown to be poor predictors of their own enjoyment and happiness,” write the authors. “Our results imply that a consumer playing roulette might actually enjoy that gamble more if the ‘house’ rather than the consumer chooses the number to be played.”

Win or lose? The authors found it doesn’t really matter. “Among those who made predictions, participants who were correct enjoyed the event no more than those who were incorrect,” they conclude.

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals

Office Bets May Lead to Unhappiness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Office Bets May Lead to Unhappiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 12, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/06/02/office-bets-may-lead-to-unhappiness/2388.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.