- Join the party. The Mega Millions lottery is indeed "mega," at over a half billion dollars. If all those other people are doing it, why not me? Jumping on the bandwagon is an age-old motivator of psychological behavior. We want to be with the in-crowd, to be "part of the movement", not "feel left out". Human beings are social animals, and we love to gather together and share in experiences. The mass media certainly fans the flames. The lottery is the current fad of the 24/7 news cycle moment. Everywhere you look and listen there is another story relating to the lottery or lottery winners. Indeed: as experts on the psychology of new and sudden wealth, we have been inundated by requests for interviews this last week In the last week: you can see us on ABC Nightline segment on the lottery that aired March 29th. Bottom line: media attention is lottery advertising, and many of us have bitten on the bait.
- A ticket of hope; a ticket of magical healing. In an era of financial uncertainly and global change, many of us are unsure of our financial and personal direction. The map to finding the American Dream has been radically altered, and using old navigation systems may just keep us running in place or running in circles. So when we have been afflected by what we have called the "financial anxiety epidemic" in which we feel tired, uncertain of what to do, and disempowered, we may seek a magic pill to make us feel better. Ah yes, buy a lottery ticket. Feel again like you did when you were a child, having hope that a better day will come, that some big thing will happen that will make everything right, set the course on track. In reality, buying a lottery ticket is gambling. But in fantasy, it lets you believe in magic: that you will be the one who spent a little and got a lot; that you will defy the extraordinary odds against winning. And it is so much fun to play with the 'what if I won' scenario, to imagine what it would be like to live your dreams, to have the money that will purchase not only a fantastic fantasy ride, but also give you a respite from the conflict, complexity, and angst of everyday life.
When times are tough, and we are continually struggling to get in command of our financial lives , a little fantasy goes a long way to feeling better. For most Americans, believing in the American Dream, to have a future that is better than, or a step up from, your parent's lifestyle, is a fantasy frought with anxiety and confusion. Or worse, powerlessness and despair. So try a little lottery ticket, put aside what you really need to do to get your life on track, and be part of something bigger than your problems. After all, someone will win, and even if it is not you, it may be someone like yourself, someone in your situation that you can identify with and cheer on.