Office pools on who will win a cricket match or a singing contest are not all fun. In fact, they can be bad for your health and happiness, says a new study.
According to the study, betting on the outcome reduces people's enjoyment of the events.
Authors Naomi Mandel and Stephen M. Nowlis at the Arizona State University explore this phenomenon, and why these contests are so common.
"Nobody likes to be wrong. Once a person has committed to a predicted outcome, he's set himself up for the possibility of looking like a fool. In other words, the fear of losing [known as] 'anticipated regret' may actually feel worse than losing itself," the researchers said.
Peoples' worry about losing the bet tends to spoil the event for them, they added.
In the study, the team designed a series of experiments where they asked participants to predict or not predict the outcome of game shows and marble games.
How does the unhappiness associated with betting coexist with the growing popularity of office pools and tournament prediction contests? The researchers found that participants expected that betting on events would enhance their viewing experience, though the actual effects were the opposite.
"In a wide range of studies, people have been shown to be poor predictors of their own enjoyment and happiness," the researchers said.
"Our results imply that a consumer playing roulette might actually enjoy that gamble more if the 'house' rather than the consumer chooses the number to be played.
"Among those who made predictions, participants who were correct enjoyed the event no more than those who were incorrect," they added.
The study "The Effect of Making a Prediction about the Outcome of a Consumption Experience on the Enjoyment of that Experience" is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.