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Losses disguised as wins evoke the reward-positivity event-related potential in a simulated machine gambling task.
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  • Dan Myles,
  • Adrian Carter,
  • Murat Yücel,
  • Stefan Bode
Dan Myles
Monash University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Adrian Carter
Monash University
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Murat Yücel
Monash University
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Stefan Bode
University of Melbourne - Parkville Campus
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Electronic gambling machines include a suite of design characteristics that may contribute to gambling related harms and require more careful attention of regulators and policymakers. One strategy that has contributed to these concerns is the presentation of “losses disguised as wins” (LDWs), a type of salient losing outcome in which a gambling payout is less than the amount wagered (i.e., a net loss), but is nonetheless accompanied by the celebratory audio-visual stimuli that typically accompanies a genuine win. These events could thereby be mistaken for gains, or otherwise act as a reward signal, reinforcing persistent gambling, despite being a loss. This study aimed to determine whether LDWs evoke a reward positivity component in a task modelled on slot-machine gambling. A prominent account of the reward positivity event-related potential suggests that it is evoked during the positive appraisal of task related feedback, relative to neutral or negative events, or that it is evoked by neural systems that implement the computation of a positive reward prediction error. We recruited 32 individuals from university recruitment pools and asked them to engage in a simple gambling task designed to mimic key features of a slot machine design. The reward positivity was identified using temporospatial principal components analysis. Results indicated a more positive reward positivity following LDWs relative to clear losses, consistent with the theory that LDWs contribute to positive reinforcement of continued gambling, despite being net losses.
Now peer-reviewed, updated and published in psychophysiology. Cite as:
Myles, D., Carter, A., Yücel, M., & Bode, S. (2024). Losses disguised as wins evoke the reward positivity event-related potential in a simulated machine gambling task. Psychophysiology, 00, e14541. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.14541
12 Jun 2023Submitted to Psychophysiology
12 Jun 2023Assigned to Editor
12 Jun 2023Submission Checks Completed
12 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
04 Oct 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
22 Feb 2024Published in Psychophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.14541