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Gender vs. Personality: The Role of Masculinity in Explaining Cognitive Style

Catherine D'Hondt, Patrick Roger, Arvid Hoffmann, Daria Plotkina

The literature on lottery gambling shows that players do not select numbers randomly, a phenomenon which is called conscious selection. Mainly, players prefer “small” numbers (less than thirty), either because of the existence of small lucky numbers or because they are victims of the so-called birthday-number effect. Because lotto games are parimutuel, such preferences result in poor ticket choices in terms of achieving below average returns. Using data from Belgium, where approximately 10% of the population plays lotto games every week, this paper extends prior literature by documenting the existence of a gender gap in the birthday-number effect, with women displaying a stronger birthday-number effect than men, as well as the non-persistence of the birthday-number effect (and consecutively of the gender gap) when participants are asked to fill in a second lotto ticket immediately after their first one. The disappearance of the birthday-number effect in sequential choices appears to be driven by response speed, with participants being twice as fast to fill in the second ticket compared to the first one. Moreover, we find that participants who bet on their birthday numbers take significantly more time to complete their ticket. Contrary to prior research, we find that the strength of the birthday-number effect is positively related to deliberative number choices, not intuitive and automatic number choices. Our results are robust to controlling for potential confounding effects including those related to participants’ age, education, self-esteem, and superstitious beliefs.