Effects of Perceived Control upon Wagering and Attributions in Computer Blackjack

Albert W. Chau*, James G. Phillips

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    The effects of short-term fluctuations of odds and personal control upon risk-taking behavior in computer blackjack were examined. Although probabilistic models make clear recommendations about optimal play in blackjack (e.g., the basic strategy and card counting), players deviate from optimal play. Those deviations might be explainable by cognitive theories. Risk taking can be explained in terms of irrational cognitions and self-serving evaluations of outcomes; it can also be explained in terms of the available evidence used when people make their decisions. Twelve undergraduate students of the University of Hong Kong played computer blackjack for money. Fluctuations of short-term odds were manipulated as winning or losing streaks, the ability to request extra cards during play was considered to be control of a skill-relevant dimension, and the ability to choose “dealers” was considered to be control of a skill-irrelevant dimension. Recent successful outcomes and the ability to control the skill-relevant factor led to increases in bet size and to stronger self-serving bias in the attribution of the outcomes. Cognitive theories of risk taking that emphasize the evidence available for decisions were supported.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)253-269
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of General Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 1995

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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