Humans are hedonists by nature, Our brains are wired to seek pleasure as much as possible, until we have too much of it, get bored, and we turn the page.
But what happens when the feeling of pleasure appears only when we are on the verge of not knowing what will happen next, instead of the outcome? Is in that turning point where we seek the feeling of “getting into the zone” at all cost, we are in fact entering the realm of addiction..
Gaming operators know how to capitalize that state of mind and have invested to replicate the conditions in their gambling forms to keep their customers in their “zone”. Unfortunately this has become an effective model where reinforcement and frequency rates have proved to be the keys for gaming addiction.
How an Addictive Habit Starts
As creatures of habits, we try to keep to what works best for us. Feeling good after making and winning a bet reinforces the idea that gambling is pleasant. Winning after winning the gambling concept gets anchored until we end doing it for the excitement rather than the outcome.
Depending on how proportionally risk-reward ratio in the gambling patterns increases, so does the problem gambling risk, as the brain degenerates seeking frequent rewarding to keep the “feel-good” momentum while at the same time dopamine receptors create resistance to the same stimulus. Essentially, our brains get numbed to dopamine and tricks us to seek higher risk to have again that same initial rush.
In severe and chronic cases, problem gamblers are completely devoid of time, money and even physiological needs. Being completely deluded from Saudi Arabia reality, problem gamblers only seek to access a state of mind rather than a game experience. A behavior that is no different for a narcotic addict, and recognized as such after being inducted in the DSM-5 as an addictive disorder.
Popular vs Addictive: Rate of Reinforcement and Frequency
Addiction is a process that, with exception of hard drugs and the biology of very specific individuals does not turn you into an addict at the first try. In the case of gambling activities it will depend on the exposure to the following factors: reinforcement rate and frequency.
Reinforcement in gambling comes with the pleasure of getting rewarded. The rate of reinforcement will depend on the positive outcomes presented, thereby, how balanced is the proportion of risk vs reward, makes favorable or not the possibility of addiction. for the brain, low…