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Step 1: Play lottery. Step 2: Wish really, really hard. Step 3: Repeat.

Save, Spend or Splurge? How Your Psychology Dictates What You Would Do If You Won the Jackpot

Science offers up some answers on how you’d react to striking it rich.

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Science offers up some answers on how you’d react to striking it rich.

From the state lottery to the slot machines of the casino, there are various ways in which we can all become instant millionaires.

Okay, so our chances are limited based upon the slim probability of us predicting all the winning balls or landing the winning combination on the reels, but plenty of people “get lucky” each year. So why couldn’t that be you?

Now, you might think that you know exactly how you would spend a jackpot win. Whether it’s your dream home, a harem of cars, trips around the world or even charitable donations, we’ve all daydreamed about what we would do with our riches.

And yet, increasingly, research is suggesting that our intentions are largely out of control and, in the end, it all comes down to our unique psychology.

Neuroscientists have conducted a series of experiments to confirm that, for some people, spending money is linked to a dopamine rush, the hormone that drives pleasure and the reward sensors in the brain.

Brian Knutson carried out an investigation where he monitored the brain activity of individuals who went through a process of buying an item that they wanted. Then, he conversely tracked the psychological response of another group for whom the price was too high.

In the first group, the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens — the part of the brain linked to reward and addiction — was widely evident. In the second group, Knutson recorded reactions taking place in the insula part of the brain, which is linked to feelings of pain and anguish.

In analyzing the experiment, Dr. Maha Alattar, a neurologist at Mary Washington Hospital, concluded that people are simply “wired differently” when it comes to saving or spending, and that they are attuned differently to the chemical responses.

So, some individuals get a dopamine hit when they are spending, whereas others feel pangs in the insula that prevent them from being frivolous with their cash. And that brings us nicely back to our jackpot winners.

The Wire

How our brains are wired will have a large bearing on how we might spend our fortune. People who experience a significant dopamine rush when spending their money can also be linked to impulsivity and spontaneity, which is why many lottery winners splash out on properties, vehicles and lots of other things.

And it’s why some jackpot winners, such as Michael Carroll in the U.K., find it difficult to spend their money “wisely,” as most would see it. He spent more than £10 million in a decade and now works as a lumberjack in Scotland on £10 per hour. Still, he’s not bitter and claims that in the process of being declared bankrupt, he “had a great time doing it.”

Perhaps the bottom line is that all best-laid plans go out the window when that jackpot win comes. We may think we know how we would spend the cash, but our innate psychology might just determine if we save or splurge and whether we give any of the money away or keep it all for ourselves.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you would need too much inspiration for how to spend your fortune, but if you were to land $30 million, A2Zcasinos.org came up with these 10 ways for you to splash it:

You can also go the bank and exchange it for 3 billion pennies. (Image via A2Zcasinos.org)

Perhaps the best answer is to be true to yourself by adapting your behavior post-win to your unique psychology. If you are a spontaneous spender by nature, then don’t feel guilty about acting that way with your riches. If you are a saver, you shouldn’t feel guilty for being something of an oddity for not frittering away your newfound wealth.

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