Posted in Photography, Psychology

Las Vegas Biases

Over reading week, I went to Las Vegas, NV, and of course being Vegas I thought I would talk about Gambler’s Fallacy, but after studying the human behavior and relating it to  cognitive effects that  often occur in social situations, I decided to write on the observed cognitive and social effects outside the realm of gambling.

One effect that I found to reoccur is the whole idea of labels and categorization. Throughout Vegas there are hundreds of fancy restaurants with celebrity chefs, and more local restaurants that are less formal. These celebrity restaurants that are supposed to have extraordinary food because they are celebrities should have amazing cuisine. So, when sampling cuisine from Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill in Caesar’s Palace, and Buddy Valastro’s Restaurant in the Venetian there was a bias that was instilled because of their famous name and status. I am a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay, so when given the chance to eat at one of his famous restaurants like Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill, I was ecstatic, I thought the food was amazing even down to the mushy peas, while my sister isn’t a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay had the same meal, and thought it was sub par and overpriced: This is the power of Labeling and Categorization.

With this labelling bias, we tend to have higher opinion of something or someone based on the label that is applied. Another example of this labelling bias is that while in the casino, I was approach by an elegant younger woman who was looking for someone to hang out while playing video poker. She was a black, single mother of 2 who was dresses in a nice cocktail dress and high heels and a clutch, her name was Sophia. Over the course of the night we were drinking and gambling and having a grand old-time. The next day I was told that Sophia was a hooker/ escort because of how she was dressed and how men kept approaching her and buying us drinks. This is where the Labeling bias come in, I had met nice women who was out having fun, getting free drinks from guys and gambling, to which I was included. When this was told to other people like my family people jumped to stereotyped conclusions about “being careful that she didn’t slip something into your drink” and “she used you as a cover to remain in the bar so she could get picked up”. These stereotyped conclusions were placed on a label of hooker; I however did not view it this way. This again is the power and demise of labels and how it can lead to unnecessary stereotypes that are a lot of the time false. Labels are so powerful that once they are applied, it completely alters your perspective, and further interactions and behavior, but why?

Another effect that I observed was conformity in social environments. While attending a BlueMan Group Show, I observed several  people taking selfies with their provided     ribbon on their head, I normally don’t indulge in selfies, but I passively broke my rule and    took a few selfies. This is an example of Conformity bias which is a “tendency to behave similarly to the others in a group, even if doing so goes against your own judgment.”(Wikipedia, 2013).

Selfie with Nicole @ Blueman Group Performance

One other form of conformity that I experienced was Situation specificity, which means that “relevant features of the behaviors of the same person are different in different situations.”(Patry, 2011) This hypothesis can be witnesses in many ways. You might normally indulge in drinking and gambling, but when in a city life Vegas, you become tempted and soon indulge in such temptations.  The reason I believe that is very impactful, and very passive is because we aren’t fully aware that environmental cues can cause behavior modification just as much as social conformity and social influence to alter one’s behavior. the two photos below are two street performers on Fremont Street, in downtown Las Vegas. One first photo (left) is an adult baby who is dressed up at Donald Trump’s son. This costume features Trump’s red power tie, and orange hair and a holding a sign that says “Trump is His Daddy”. The second performer (right) is a drag version of Marilyn Monroe, with his full on beard and white Monroe dress, he entertained the crowd by twerking and acting like a complete fool. in relation Situation specificity, these acts appear right at home on the crazy street  of Fremont, but put in any other context, like in a hotel lobby, and they would appear to be mentally deficient, and would be asked to leave, but not on Fremont street, it’s expected.

One article that I found examines how people’s decision-making skills of gambling can be skewed because of more risk taking and distracting environment from the gambling tables in Las Vegas. more money is lost when some is active, aggressive or distracted which I believe the hotel/casinos in Vegas play on these cognitive effects. While in the casino, I was offered free drinks, smokes, roses, and even massages while I play their games, this I believe is because of distraction and more risk taking occur when playing, while getting massaged by a beautiful woman and getting served free drinks, you feel like you are on top of the world and nothing can go wrong which results in more risk-taking behavior and more money that the casino is payed. Is it a ploy that hotel owners use, by adding such distractors as masseuse, drinks, bright lights and graphics of slot machines and fancy casinos and hotels that make us feel like we are living the high life and become more risk taking to give the casinos more of our hard-earned money?

Or what about the largest distraction of them all, which is the high life of Las Vegas. the fancy themed hotels that make you feel like a million dollars, so when you get home you are broke. This effect known as misdirection is not only being used by magicians but the entire sphere of  Las Vegas. A cognitive effect relating to misdirection is Inattentional blindness which is also known as perceptual blindness, is a “psychological lack of attention that is not associated with any vision defects or deficits. It may be further defined as the event in which an individual fails to recognize an unexpected stimulus that is in plain sight.” (Wikipedia, 2017) But with misdirection that occurs, at least we are being doomed by some pretty amazing sights and places: Venetian Hotel, Caesar’s Forum Shoppes and Bellaggio Hotel, and the rest of what Las Vegas Has to offer.

With that being said, I have posted some other of my photographs that I had taken while in Vegas that I believe related to this blog post, other observed human behaviour and some photos that I are unique and just look awesome.

Heart Attack Grill Restaurant
Jellyfish @Sharkreef aquarium Talk about Conformity
Slotzilla Zipline experience @ Fremont Street
Chocolate Fountain @ Jean Philippe’s Cafe.
Statue of Licorice Liberty @Hershey’s World.
Pure Human behaviour of non conformist sleeping on the monorail



Foroni, F. and Rothbart, M. (2013) ‘Abandoning a label doesn’t make it disappear: The perseverance of labeling effects’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(1), pp. 126–131. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.08.002.

Hearts of Compassion Publishing (2015) Las Vegas – Misdirection. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).
Ian Carlin, B. and Robinson, D.T. (2009) Fear and loathing in Las Vegas: Evidence from blackjack tables. .
Kim, R. and Shams, L. (2017) What can magicians teach us about the brain? Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).
O’Doherty, K. and Lecouteur, A. (2007) ‘“Asylum seekers”, “boat people” and “illegal immigrants”: Social categorisation in the media*’, Australian Journal of Psychology, 59(1), pp. 1–12. doi: 10.1080/00049530600941685.
Patry, J.-L. (2011) ‘Methodological consequences of situation specificity: Biases in assessments’, Frontiers in Psychology, 2. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00018.
Spranca, M., Minsk, E. and Baron, J. (1991) ‘Omission and commission in judgment and choice’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27(1), pp. 76–105. doi: 10.1016/0022-1031(91)90011-t.
Wikipedia (2013) Conformity bias – Lesswrongwiki. Available at: (Accessed: 2 March 2017).
Wikipedia (2017) ‘Inattentional blindness’, in Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).

3 thoughts on “Las Vegas Biases

  1. I think Vegas is definitely a place where many social cognitive theories can be observed such as conformity. I wanted to comment on the idea of casino’s giving away free stuff to people playing games. Casino games are designed so that the casino has a better chance of winning. Therefore, the longer you stay playing, the more money the casino is likely to make. This is why drinks and massages are given out to people who are playing. It attempts to keep players at the table and entice other people to play so that they can have access to these free commodities. Once playing, it has been shown that people who are drinking are more likely to bet higher, get additional money, and lose more than they could afford (Giacopassi, Stitt, and Vandiver, 1998). The idea of getting free stuff and the effects of alcohol itself influence players to keep on playing which makes the casino more money.

    Giacopassi, D., Stitt, B.G. & Vandiver, M. J Gambl Stud (1998) 14:135. doi:10.1023/A:1023094725055


  2. Though this topic is not about gambling, still it guides me to think about the risking taking behaviour. Last year there was a gambling experiment going on on campus. Mainly university students were asking to mimicking investing behaviours. The result quite stood out. Those who are more risk-taking won more amount of price at the end. The article I cited from talks about the relationship between anxious level and risk-taking behaviour. Most of us go to Las Vegas for vacation and relaxation. So it is likely we are more in a relieved mood rather than being constrained. While those who with less anxiety are more prone to make risky decisions.
    Giorgetta, C., Grecucci, A., Zuanon, S., Perini, L., Balestrieri, M., Bonini, N., . . . Brambilla, P. (2012). Reduced risk-taking behavior as a trait feature of anxiety. Emotion, 12(6), 1373-1383. doi:10.1037/a0029119


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