Selective Attention and Selective Recall: “I Only See What I Want to See”

Selective Attention and Selective Recall: “I Only See What I Want to See”

In our every day lives, we’re constantly being selective about what we do or don’t pay attention to. For example, we easily ignore the background music until we hear our favorite song. In gambling, it’s no surprise that what attracts people’s attention is winning. Winning can make such an impression that it can make people ignore or minimize their losses. Think of the gambler who tells his friends he won $100 on a slot machine, but doesn’t mention that he lost more than that earlier in the day.The result can be that the person has a distorted perception about how much was won compared to how much was lost. Some people are unpleasantly surprised when they find out how much they really spent gambling.

Selective attention and selective recall can also play a role in reinforcing someone’s belief in a gambling system. For example, if someone believes that machines pay more on Mondays, that person might remember the Mondays when she won, forgetting about or explaining away the Mondays when she lost. Here are some other common examples of selective recall:

  • I “always” win when I double up.
  • I “never” win when I double up.
  • My friend “always” wins more than I do.
  • I “always” win at that casino.

One of the best ways to avoid selective recall is to accurately track all your gambling results

click here for a downloadable gambling log and tracking sheet.

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