Not for the pleasure of playing, or out of habit, or for daydreaming: more than half of the purchasers of the Spanish Christmas lottery tickets in Spain say that they do it out of fear. They confess that one of the main reasons they play El Gordo de Navidad is to avoid envy in case their neighbor or somebody they know wins a prize, while they don’t.
Just some of the Spanish Christmas lottery players will win a prize. We know it, but we keep playing in spite of knowing it. If we are going to lose, why do we do it? Well, we play out of habit, out of hope, but also out of fear. As much as 56% of lottery players buy tickets out of fear in what sociologists call “preventive envy.”
The sociologist José Antonio Gómez has thoroughly investigated the phenomenon of the El Gordo de Navidad in Spain. “44% of lottery buyers say they would prefer not to buy any Spanish Christmas lottery tickets. There is an element of social pressure in buying lottery tickets. Everybody feels obliged to play, it’s something like a “preventive envy”, meaning ‘I play to avoid that somebody else gets the prize instead of me’. ”
“An example of preventive envy is tickets purchased by company co-workers. Who can escape from buying one tenth knowing that all colleagues will buy a share of that number? You will not want to be the only one that will remain without a prize!” At Christmas, almost all of us play the Spanish Christmas lottery: 70% of the population, which means that 25 million people keep buying despite knowing that it is not a guarantee to win. Out of ten Spaniards, seven play at Christmas. Of those who don’t play, one reason is because they can’t afford to, and the other because they simply don’t want to.
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