Harvard men would make good gamblers, Social Relations data indicates. Charles F. Mosteller, associate professor of Mathematical Statistics, reported yesterday that the University men used in his experiment on gambling insisted on fair odds before placing bets.
Mosteller hired students for his Social Relations experiment, letting them use their $1-an-hour pay in his gambling sessions and permitting them to keep their winnings.
He is now analyzing his data after completing this work as part of an experiment on the utility of money. In contrast with the Harvard men tested, the National Guard personnel in the experiment were willing to wager even when the odds were not giving them a fair return.
Men tested were given cards on which poker hands were listed, such as "four of a kind." The cards also told them how much money they could win by betting five cents and beating the listed hand with a roll of five dice.
Half of the time the returns offered were below the "fair bet." The students tested always know what the "fair return" should be.
The best any man did in one session was to win $16 of Mosteller's money; however, the man who followed the odds most carefully and took only the best risks was the smallest winner after the eight-week experiment ended. Mosteller attributed that fact to the short-run nature of the experiment.
From his experiments Mosteller has been able to construct contract curves showing how persons will behave when presented with more complicated bets and situations.
Mosteller says that the dollar means more to the National Guardsmen than it does to the Harvard men "Students will not play against adverse odds, while Guardsmen will, when the amount of money to be won gets interesting to them."