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[Reality cracking] Reversing lotteries ads  (03/05/18 16:24:52)
    By chance I've read some articles about lotteries, and in particular how lotteries advertising and lotteries building try to exploit our weakness as human being by playing with our emotions.

    One of the emotion with which lotteries ads play is regret. They use the slogan "it could have been you" and use the fact that we will feel regret (a negative emotion) if we don't play the lottery and if we had played it we would have won. Counterfactual thinking is one of the main drivers of lotteries, it explains why people continue to buy lotteries tickets even thought not a single one of their lottery purchase has ever brought moneys. They continue to hope imagine a future where they won.

    Also consider that lottery's payout rate of 50% is lower than that offered by other forms of commercial gambling like horse racing (81%) and slot machines (89%).

    A real case where regret worked: in 1995 a man took out his own life because he forget to play the set of numbers he play all weeks which revealed to be the winner numbers the week he forget to play it (the winner prize was 2£ million). This proves the power of regret.

    One of the most evil lottery is the Dutch Postcode Lottery. In this lottery your postcode is the ticket number. Hence even if not participating one may still find out that one would have won had one played. Here regret is heavily exploited.

    In US, in 1997, state lotteries spent over 400$ million on advertising and promotion. I repeat: 400$ million of just ads.

    Another interesting data is the fact that people have faith in a sort of "religion of numbers": they believe that some number have more probability to go out than others. In Maryland's three-digit numbers game, the numbers 333 and 777 were bet nine times the average rates.

    Other method than regret to persuade people that they have a real chance of winning a big prize are the following:

    Tactic 1. Make winners as visible as possible, so that in judging the likelihood of winning, people have readily available examples.

    Tactic 2. Design games so as to disguise the true odds.
    The lotto game is a good example. Take California's lotto game, where the player chooses six of the numbers between 1 and 53. With respect to the probability of winning, the game is equivalent to choosing a single number between 1 and 23 million. But if California offered that bet, who would buy?
    In designing instant scratch-off games, one common device is the "heartstopper". Players are told that they win, say, $10,000 if when they scratch off the ticket, they uncover three symbols that match. Many of the tickets are printed such that the first two symbols match. The player's heart stops with the excitement of having almost won.

    Tactic 3. Ridicule doubters.
    One ad in Michigan shows a curmudgeon complaining that he has no more chance of winning the lottery than of being struck by lightning. Then, sure enough, he gets zapped by a lightning bolt. In the final scene, he is shown at the lottery ticket outlet, still charred and smoking, saying, "One ticket, please."

    Tactic 4. Encourage people in their natural tendency to believe that there's an element of skill in playing the lottery.
    Games are designed so as to provide people with choices. Lotto and the numbers game, for example, allow people to choose which numbers they want to play. Usually in human experience, tasks that involve choice also involve skill. And many ads convey the notion that winning is not all luck

    Tactic 5. Encourage people to minimize regret. One state used the slogan "Don't let your number win without you," reminding players how bad they would feel if they missed a day and that was the day when their number hit.

    Tactic 6. The final tactic is concealment. Giving people accurate information on odds of winning is low priority in lottery ads. States rarely provide a factual statement of odds in their ads or on-site displays, and when they do, the probabilities almost always refer to the likelihood of winning the smallest prizes.

    All these just to keep in mind that if we feel an emotion it can be induced and so not be "true". The true emotion can be felt reversing the process that have lead us to feel that emotion. So do not use only the heart but also your brain.


    [i] Lotteries in the real world, C. Clotfelter and P. Cook
    [ii] "It could have been you": how states exploit counterfactual thought to market lotteries, J. Landman and R. Petty
    [iii] Consequences of regret aversion in real life: the case of the dutch postcode lottery, M. Zeelenberg and R. Pieters

    p.s. does someone have a mirror of the phplab, the php messageboard the seeker's messageboard or things like that that are no more reachable in internet?

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[Reality cracking] Reversing lotteries ads