Slot is a casino game that involves spinning reels and matching symbols. The player bets money and, if the symbols line up in a row, the player wins credits based on how much he or she bet before. The odds of winning vary from machine to machine, but they are typically better on nickel machines than quarter or dollar machines.
Despite their popularity, slot machines are notorious for being highly addictive. Schull’s book explains why: These games are solitary, can be played up to 1,200 spins per hour, and offer constant reinforcement, which is why they can become highly habit-forming. In her interviews with people who play these machines, many of them reported that they were addicted, and some admitted to losing entire days at a time on their machines.
Several studies, including those by Kassinove and Schare and Strickland and Grote, have found that the audio-visual stimuli correlated with winning on slot machines have conditionally reinforcing properties. These results have led some to believe that near-miss stimuli contribute to gambling persistence, but it is not clear why these effects should occur. Moreover, a recent experiment by Ghezzi et al. that used an extinction treatment to eliminate both wins and near misses failed to find evidence of this effect.