CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Your odds of winning Wednesday night’s Powerball jackpot are infinitesimally small. The odds are about 175,000,000 to one--the same as correctly guessing a coin flip 27 straight times.
But when someone at work comes around, asking if you want to throw your money in on a Powerball pool, why does it feel really hard to say no?
I posed that question to Dan Ariely, a prominent behavioral economist. He gave two reasons why Powerball pools at the office are hard to pass up.
“It's become socially normative,” he said. “Suddenly, everybody around you is doing it.”
The second thing?
“Anticipated regret,” said Ariely, “is the feeling that we think we're going to have regret later on. For example, when they ask you to buy the extended warranty on all sorts of appliances. You say to yourself 'How stupid would I feel if a month after the warranty expired, the TV is broken and I did not buy the warranty.'”
There is one indisputable fact, though: You cannot win if you do not play.