Men more likely to gamble after getting fortunes told, study finds


A new study published recently found that men are more likely to make decisions relating to online gambling, the financial markets, and other matters after consulting a fortune teller, even if they claim not to be superstitious.

The peer-reviewed paper, published in PLOS ONE journal and conducted by researcher Xiaoyue Tan in collaboration with the Universidad de Murcia in Spain, has taken an unusual look at the decision-making habits of men, particularly in the context of financial decisions.

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Tan’s study looked at decisions made by men in their online gambling activities after heaving their fortunes told. Online gambling has become immensely popular in recent years, with casino, slots, table games, and sites like offering bingo and other games to those on the go and demand. A vast number of games, all available on-demand via smartphones and high-speed internet, have led to a significant increase in customers, while men are more likely to gamble than women.

In this context, it found that a positive prediction in fortune telling significantly increases the chances that a man would bet, even amongst those who say they do not believe that fortune tellers are accurate in their predictions. Researchers described this as an “intriguing paradox” that demonstrates players are not always aware of the subtle influences that impact their lives and thought patterns.

What is fortune telling?

Fortune telling is a practice found in many cultures and over thousands of years that involves an individual predicting information about another individual’s future. This could include their financial, business, career, love, or family lives, as well as any other number of events or circumstances. Also referred to as divination, fortune telling can use various props such as crystal balls, cards, divination sticks, dice, fire, coffee grounds, astrology, tea leaves, water, and even scattered salt.

Whether telling someone’s future is possible or not, much less through a ball or pile of salt, is very much up for debate. Overall, the scientific community dismisses it as superstition, cold reading, and fraud. But proponents of the practice claim it is accurate, and this is backed up by countless anecdotes from those that partake in lessons.


So what about gambling?

The study, available at, wanted to look at risk-taking behavior in detail, so it included a gambling game among the subjects. They were each given a different fortune outcome, either positive, negative, or neutral, and were then asked to engage in playing the gambling game where they could win EUR 5. The participants were totally randomized and included both men and women of varying ages and backgrounds who took part via a specially designed application.

They also looked at whether participants would be interested in buying hypothetical lottery tickets based on the kind of fortune-telling result they had. While men were more likely to gamble if they had a positive impact, this did not translate into buying lottery tickets quite so much, although they were likely to buy more than women.

In short, the researchers were somewhat surprised by the gender disparity and particularly the fact that men appeared to believe fortune tellers while simultaneously denying it. They did hypothesize that perhaps the results were related to the fact that men like to be in control as well as winners, leading to them being prepared to believe anything that could potentially influence the outcome. It was also found that the teller’s results helped men feel less anxious about wagering, while also providing them with justification for their choices, and the consequences. But in reality, no one should believe or bet on the outcome of fortune tellers as advises.

When it comes to matters like gambling, finance, and big decisions, the individual should rely on their own knowledge in the context of their particular situation before making any big decisions. If anything, the results of the study highlight that we may be more influenced by external and unexpected factors than we realise. As such, we should make efforts to detach from them and instead make decisions that are the best for us.