What Type of Lottery Player are You?
As social beings, people are interested not only in what their fellow humans are doing, but in how and why they are doing it. Professional (and armchair) anthropologists study different behaviours and try to put reasons and numbers to them; witness Stockholm Syndrome and happiness indices. So when it comes to the psychology of lottery players, it’s not surprising that people are interested.
One such individual is math teacher Ben Orlin, who wrote a fascinating book titled Math with Bad Drawings: Illuminating the Ideas That Shape Our Reality which breaks down big ideas into manageable chunks. His entire book is worth reading, as the below summary on his lotto personas proves.
The Person Who Has Nothing Left to Lose
When in dire financial situations, people tend to make bad decisions. If you feel like you’re trapped in a loop of perpetual loss, you might be willing to risk more of what you have left on lottery tickets. If you find yourself in this frame of mind, be very careful.
The Educated Fool
Fools are in almost as much peril as those with nothing left to lose. They try to beat the lottery at its own game, by focusing on a limited understanding of probability theory. Basically, if you spend more you are more likely to win more money per ticket over time – but we’re talking about millions, over years. No one has the resources to play that kind of long game.
The Newly Legal Kid
Fresh from their 18th birthdays, most newly official adults are keen to explore the previously forbidden life pleasures of smoking, voting and gambling. Scratchcards and lotto games are probably the easiest ways to achieve that, but if things get really crazy, there’s nothing stopping these suddenly mature individuals from enlisting in the military.
The Dutiful Taxpayer
Taxpayers, in this instance, feel that by choosing to play the lottery they are benefiting the country while also having a great time. If they get told about the specific good works that the money goes to, so much the better.
Dreamers are paying for the 5-minute break in reality that buying a lottery ticket gives them. What would you do with millions of dollars in wins? And how much would you spend fantasising about just that?
The Basic Enthusiast
Orlin memorably describes lotto tickets as “scratch-and-sniff for grownups” and the Enthusiast is completely here for it. They literally just want to enjoy themselves by playing; wins are a happy bonus. This is the kind of player you want to be like.