Video Roulette Betting Perceived as chancier Than Real

Individuals may be less willing to take risks on activities depicted online through video feeds than they are in person, even when the activity is the same.

In a study of individuals betting on roulette, participants perceived more risk in games broadcast over video than gambled on in person.

The feeling that we don’t have as much influence over something that happens remotely, rather than right in front of us, seems to produce this difference in perception.

“individuals prefer face-to-face” contact, said Jim Phillips, a psychologist at Monash University near Melbourne, Australia and co-author of a study published April 20 in Computers in Human Behavior. “Providers of electronic services struggle with such tendencies when they try to replace face-to-face with computer mediated transactions.”

Video is considered a more “rich” form of remote communication than text- or audio-based media because video conveys facial expressions, hand gestures and eye contact. Companies use video to foster employee cooperation and some gambling websites use video feeds to enhance customer experience.

Previous research demonstrated that cooperation between individuals using audio and video technologies was comparable to face-to-face situations, though it took longer to achieve remotely than in person. Other studies have shown that the less “rich” a communication medium is, the less individuals trust both the technology and any information they receive through it.

To test how the video medium might influence decisions, Phillips and his co-authors asked study participants to bet on two scenarios of roulette. In one instance, individuals gambled on the game while looking at a roulette wheel over a video feed. In the second scenario, the wheel was located in the same room as the gamblers.

In each scenario, test subjects gambled on both high- and low-stakes games. Bets were made by computer so as to decrease human hampering; to encourage test subjects to take the games seriously, the top two scorers won iPods.

Phillips and his associates found that in games with higher stakes, participants wagered less with a remotely located wheel than with a wheel right in front of them. They also took longer to place their bets in high-stakes video feed games than with the in-person scenario. gamblers preferred having the roulette wheel in the same room with them.

“Up close, there is the opportunity to enforce social contracts, to check the transaction,” said Phillips of the participants’ preference. The prevalence of internet scams and spam doesn’t inspire confidence in a more limited interface like video and the internet.

Ernst Bekkering, a professor in information systems and technology at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, complimented the researchers’ setup, eliminating the potentially confounding human element of experimenters asking gamblers for their bets.

But John Campbell, a professor of information sciences and engineering at the University of Canberra in Australia, cautions that the number of participants in the study was small, at 34, and biased towards men.

According to Phillips’ team, the perception of reduced control over remote activities can result in more than cautious behavior. It could also increase inappropriate behaviors, since there would be less of a chance of reprimands or disapproval.

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