WHY GOOD MOODS CAN LEAD BETTORS ASTRAY

Bettors attribute a winning streak or a losing streak to an array of reasons, some logical and others not so much.  One legitimate reason for a good or bad day betting may be how we feel at a particular time, our state of mind.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal (May 15-16, 2021), a vast amount of research, much of it by Australian psychologist Joseph Forgas, demonstrates that “being in a good or bad mood can have a major effect on people’s judgment.”  For example, “a judge might impose a severe sentence on a criminal defendant, in part because the weather is miserable outside.  A doctor might decide to send a patient home rather than to order a battery of tests, in part because it is late in the afternoon and she is a bit tired.  A corporate executive might decide to go forward with a risky project, in part because she had a wonderful weekend with her family.”

Interestingly, “people who are in a good mood are more likely to let their biases affect their thinking.” Moreover, research demonstrates that “being in a good mood makes people more gullible and less apt to detect deception.”  Forgas has found that “people who are in a good mood are more approving of people, they are more generous and helpful, and their judgments are more upbeat,” whereas a negative mood has the opposite effect.” In some cases, a bad mood can actually make us better decision makers, especially when we need to make critical judgments.

And moods are highly correlated to weather…as all of us know intuitively and don’t need psychological research to confirm.

Picture a sun-splashed day at Saratoga or Del Mar, or Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day, and a contagiously festive atmosphere.  A typical bettor at the racetrack would be susceptible to making unwise wagers that he or she might forgo on a snowy day at Aqueduct or Woodbine.  The bettor’s objectivity is impaired by feel-good emotion, the notion that all is well in the immediate world.  On the other hand, a bettor’s mood at frigid Aqueduct or Woodbine might be negatively impacted by the long winter and, consequently, he or she becomes more businesslike—discerning of tips from fellow bettors, more analytical, and less likely to wager on longshots and highly improbable exotics.

The implication for the serious bettor is enjoy yourself, but don’t let an emotion-laden good mood override sound reasoning. 

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