Some people say that gambling is a universal human need that has no race or sex, like the needs of hunger and thirst. But that’s not true, says Robert Pape, a social psychologist at University of Utah whose research has explored the links between gambling, gambling addictions, and drug addiction among humans. “Most people agree, however wrongly, that gambling is a race or sex-based trait,” Pape says.
For one thing, he and other scientists who study such things have yet to see clear evidence that gambling is a universal human impulse. While women are better at gambling than men, this study suggests that gambling for women may have evolved to help them with their sex lives, says Pape. “Gambling is a social activity, and it was likely not evolved to help men and women in the same way,” he says.
In other words, gambling has evolved, and men like it more than women.
For another thing, the desire for gambling is more a cultural thing than a physical one — a thing that could have been universal in human society but was a thing exclusive to humans for millennia, Pape says. In a few countries, gambling is illegal. But you will find that in virtually any country, you will find people who like to gamble.
In fact, some researchers propose that we have a genetic predisposition to gambling. People with a certain genetic makeup — a tendency to be gamblers — are more likely to gamble and to form bonds with others who also gamble.
More recently, this line of thought has been further modified by studies on mice, in which scientists have used genetic testing or implanted drugs to make the mice more and less prone to gambling behavior.
When we look around our world, the thing that stands out to me is how much sex the world has. Men aren’t getting married, and women aren’t getting married. People haven’t changed their sex roles. In fact, the opposite may have occurred. A great deal of the male-female mating ratio is in fact a result of monogamy. Men are monogamous and women are monogamous. But people were born monogamous and it wasn’t until recent years that the mating ratio changed.
And of course, these things are not to say that we don’t all play our hand at some point — that’s really just the human thing. And we are very good at it. The way we deal with the risk is the same way we deal with food: We have to be