The Iowa Gambling Task is a useful mental task intended to simulate real life decision making under pressure. It is very similar to the standard SAT or GRE exam in many ways; however, because it is administered online and through the internet, there are some differences that can be significant for students who are taking the test. First of all, unlike the GRE, you don’t have a tutor walking up to you and giving you instructions and helping you prepare. Instead, you will have to search the internet for information and make connections based upon what you find, which can be overwhelming at first. The end result can be rewarding, though if you find the right tools.
Although the internet can seem a little intimidating, it is recommended that you study plenty before taking the Iowa gambling task. For example, a good set of textbooks will show you how to manipulate and think logically about different scenarios in order to get optimal results, whereas the GRE is more about fitting your brain to a particular task (i.e., answering multiple-choice questions). Hence, it is important to prepare well for the IQA by reading widely and engaging in regular, systematic practice on the exams. Otherwise, you may end up showing signs of the signs of high inter-study variability, which is not good for your standardized test score.
Like the GRE, the Iowa gambling task includes two quadrants: the advantageous and disadvantageous quadrant. The advantageous quadrant focuses on your response to the cognitive and memory tests that measure speed, memory, attention, and retention. The disadvantageous quadrant focuses on how you respond to the gambling questions. On this portion of the IQA, the main concern is how you judge losses and gains, rather than how much money you win or lose. It is therefore important to practice the gambling tasks with a real casino so that you are familiar with how you react to losses and gains and can easily manipulate your decisions when you take the real tests.
Unlike the baseline IQA, the in the study was not a controlled test with a control group. In the igt study, participants were offered a monetary reward after each round of gambling, regardless of whether they won or lost. Because the participants were given their initial payoff without any effort from them, their ability to be motivated greatly increased. This means that the individuals that took the best strategy also performed better than those that failed to gain maximized profits.
Based on the results of the igt study, Bechara et al. suggest that there are three different psychological processes involved when playing the game. They call these different processes “reflexivity,” “cognition,” and “reflexivity/cognition.” Reflexivity refers to your reaction to losing money upon being called for a bet. When this occurs, you must immediately change your initial response–even if the situation does not require such a change. In other words, you must now “self-check” to ensure that your initial reaction was correct.
Secondly, according to the researchers, you can use the information from the prior round of betting to predict your own winnings in future bets. In a previous study by Bechara et al., participants had to watch a series of clips that showed someone else winning money and then predict how much they would win if they were able to bet again. Interestingly, the participants were able to correctly predict their winnings even when their actual winnings were lower than their predicted winnings. The results of this study reveal a neuropsychological explanation for how people are able to increase the amount of money that they place into the bank by using IGE.
Lastly, according to this study, you can increase your profitability by using the SOP, or specific, pattern recognition task. In this task, you must examine a series of photographs and select one that best portrays the color, shape, size, and other aspects of the object that you are trying to remember. After seeing the photo, you must then recall the item in your memory. In this trial, participants used a short list of items as opposed to a longer list and thus, their response times were longer. They also spent more time looking at the photos than they typically do during a normal testing session. This experiment demonstrates that you can increase your profitability by using a specifically trained SOP during an IGE trial.
In the second part of the study, the students completed a baseline IQ test and then took the IGE trial after spending a week on the internet with access to the same items. The results showed that the students who completed the baseline IQ test improved their baseline performance by about 4%, which is an impressive result. Following the first week, the students completed two more weeks of internet access and the final analysis indicated that they were, in fact, better able to predict the outcome of the trial. In addition, the results demonstrated that the improvement in baseline IQ was not correlated with increased profitability on the final IQ test and therefore, further supports the notion that there are no substantial long-term differences between the IQ test results and the IGE trial results.