If we offered an 80 percent chance to win $200 or a 20 percent chance to win $800, which would you pick? The correct answer: “That depends.”
Scientists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology believed students would be more likely to go for the high-payout long shot if they were made to feel left out socially. Researchers set up the experiment by having students play a rigged computer game of catch. Results from a questionnaire confirmed that those who were set up to lose felt a little like outcasts. Then all students were offered a choice between a safer and a riskier lottery. Sure enough, the excluded students were more likely to pick the long shot.
“In the absence of social support,” said assistant professor Rod Duclos, Ph.D., “forlorn consumers apparently place more value on the power of money to secure what they want socially.”