No crocodile tears as re­searchers win Har­vard award

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

AN Aussie re­search project which mea­sured whether hold­ing a croc is more likely to en­tice pun­ters to bet big has taken out an in­fa­mous Ig No­bel prize for ab­surd sci­en­tific achieve­ment.

Cen­tral Queens­land Univer­sity pro­fes­sors Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer were named Ig No­bel Lau­re­ates at Har­vard Univer­sity on Thurs­day.

Their re­search as­sessed whether visi­tors to a Queens­land crocodile farm made riskier bets on a sim­u­lated pok­ies game im­me­di­ately af­ter nurs­ing a 1m saltie.

“Our prior re­search ident- ified four psy­cho­log­i­cal fac­tors that put peo­ple at in­creased risk prob­lem gam­bling: ex­cite­ment, es­teem, ex­cess and es­cape,” Prof Rockloff said.

“We needed a sneaky way to gen­er­ate some ‘ex­cite­ment’ prior to par­tic­i­pants play­ing pok­ies, to see if this would lead to riskier gam­bling.”

Prof Rockloff’s wife Su­san, who is from Alice Springs, sug­gested croc­o­diles as an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble way to gen­er­ate some ex­cite­ment among pun­ters. The study sug­gested ex­cite­ment associated with gam­bling can cause peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing prob­lems to gam­ble more in­ten­sively.

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