November 1, 2008 Marketing researchers have found that making wagers on sports and reality television spoils the enjoyment of the event because people fear losing their bets. In a five year study, participants were asked to view a reality show with or without placing a bet. They were then asked to rate their enjoyment. Researchers found that the people who made a prediction tended to enjoy watching the shows less than the people who didn't make a prediction.
The odds are five-to-one you've been involved in an office pool; but are those bets really enhancing your enjoyment of the actual event? The answer may surprise you.
Spend a few minutes on the Internet, and you'll see you can bet on almost anything these days -- from sporting events to who will win American Idol or Survivor.
Fantasy Football fan Paul Fombelle says betting against coworkers just makes it more fun.
"I love office pools," Fombelle said. "Office pools really bring people together to talk and hang out about something they probably wouldn't talk about if they didn't have that pool to bring them together."
A recent study examined the question, "Are betting sites and office pools really increasing your enjoyment of the game?" Over the course of five years, Fombelle and more than 300 others were asked to watch excerpts from reality and game shows. Some bet on the outcome and some didn't. Then, win or lose, they were asked to rate how much they enjoyed the experience.
"The people who made a prediction always enjoyed watching the shows less than the people who didn't make a prediction," said study author Naomi Mandel, Ph.D., a researcher at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.
Dr. Mandel says from a purely scientific standpoint, the act of predicting causes stress and even unhappiness. "Uncertainty is one thing that's driving it," Dr. Mandel said. "The other thing is anticipated regret, [or] thinking about all the things that could go wrong and all the negative feelings that will result from that." Fombelle couldn't believe it.
"I was shocked," Fombelle said. "I thought the office pool would make it a more exciting and fun experience for everyone involved."
Fombelle isn't giving up office pools. Neither is the researcher herself, but she will take her own professional advice -- if you feel yourself stressing over those office pool bets, give it up.
BACKGROUND: The researchers were inspired by their own experience participating in a pool betting on the winner of the CBS television show Survivor. They were surprised when it seemed that people experienced more stress when they predicted the outcome of a contest. Intrigued, the researchers designed an experiment to test if this observation held up in a controlled setting. One group of participants was asked to predict the outcome of television shows and marble games, while the other group was asked to refrain and simply observe. Researchers then compared the two groups' enjoyment of the contests.
THE MATH OF FILLING OUT BETTING POOL FORMS: Combinatorics is a branch of mathematics concerned with counting individual objects, particularly units of a finite set, like a collection of marbles stored in a small pouch. Once primarily a mathematical curiosity, it is vital to many areas of modern technology. For example, it is a useful tool in determining probabilities and the number of structures possessing certain properties as applied to telephone (fiber optic) networks and computers. It can also be used to analyze industrial process schedules, electrical networks, and economics.
Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.