Choose six numbers, any numbers

Many people gamble regularly on the UK National Lottery. Eileen Hill and Janis Williamson discuss the decisions players make when participating in the Lottery draw, and explain the psychological principles underlying those decisions.
MARK Griffiths, in his article ‘The National Lottery and scratch-cards’ (The Psychologist, January 1997), claims ‘the lottery phenomenon has gripped the nation’s psyche’. Although the Lottery is well into its third year of operation, ticket sales and the media suggest that interest has not diminished. This article complements Griffiths’ article, in that it reviews the Lottery draw to date, and discusses decision making relating to participation, expenditure and Lottery number selections. The intention is also to explain the psychological principles probably used by a large proportion of the UK population who began to play, and continue to participate, in a gamble with a negative expected value.

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