Conducting a Self-Assessment to Understand and Improve Your Betting Psychology
How much do you know about yourself as a person?
Many of us would probably answer, “quite a lot” and that is true! After all, you observe yourself every day! But chances are also good that there is a lot about yourself under the surface that you are not entirely aware of. But that stuff is real, and it does impact your sports betting decisions and outcomes.
As explained by Psychology Today, “Much learning, especially recognition of complex patterns, takes place outside of conscious awareness. Similarly, many of the elements that
go into judgments and decision-making are processed outside of awareness.”
The BBC says, “The more we probe the brain’s workings, the more we realize that our conscious minds are really just a summary of what our brains get up to all the time – without ‘us’ having any idea.”
Here’s the thing. For a lot of us, our most destructive patterns are buried in our unconscious minds, because we don’t want to face them, but until we do, we essentially keep running the same bad code over and over again. And since we do not even know it is happening, we have no way to shut it down and take true control of our actions.
But there is good news! The beliefs and assumptions that are in our unconscious mind are available to us to discover.
How can you do that? Well, you have two main options:
- You can work on it on your own (perhaps with some helpful insights from friends, family or acquaintances), or
- you can enlist the aid of a trained professional.
Working with a Professional to Understand Your Mind
A therapist can help guide you through the process of learning more about how you think and feel and make decisions—and what drives your choices on a day-to-day basis.
Psychology Today says, “There is no hocus-pocus to psychotherapy. Therapists are good at listening to people tell their stories and, based on solid knowledge of how the mind works, and especially patterns of association, discerning clues to their motivations, beliefs, and feelings. They are also experts at asking the kinds of questions that help people examine the meaning of past experiences and recognize the triggers for unproductive behaviors. All pave the way for positive change.”
What is great about working with a therapist is that
- they have a wealth of knowledge and experience which you can pull from, and
- the right therapist can offer you an unbiased frame of reference
Sometimes the context offered by a third party uninvolved with your personal life can be hugely beneficial.
And oftentimes, a therapist will be able to notice things you would miss on your own or come up with possibilities that you would never have thought of. In doing so, they can help open doors that might otherwise remain closed for longer.
What Can You Do to Assess Yourself on Your Own?
Cannot see a professional, or simply do not want to? There is a ton you can do on your own to learn about yourself, and it isn’t complicated.
A great starting point is simply to start taking psychological assessments, scoring them, and learning what your scores might indicate about how you are. You can find numerous assessments for free online. In most cases, you will need to do the scoring yourself. Some sites will add up your scores for you.
A Word of Caution: Conducting Self-Assessments Without a Professional Has Its Limitations
As I mentioned before, a psychological professional can offer valuable context for interpreting your results from an assessment.
Indeed, what an assessment tells you may not be the truth about your personality. Your interpretations of the questions could lead you to answer them in unusual ways, for example, generating unusual results.
Plus, a lot of people do not realize that if they are fairly close to the middle of the bell curve, a result may not be as significant as they might initially guess. Not only that, but the middle of the bell curve is often not simply the middle number possible on the assessment. So, it is important to research to try and understand what an “average” result is for any given assessment. Indeed, if I recall correctly, the APA strongly cautions against using some of its assessments on your own without a trained professional overseeing you.
On the Other Hand
The reality is that while the right 5-minute conversation with the right therapist can change your life for the better, therapists make mistakes too, and often. So whether or not you enlist the help of a professional, it will ultimately be incumbent upon you to make sure you are thinking critically about what they say.
If you feel they are a good fit for you and have a decent grasp on who you are and how you think, it is worth giving what they say a fair hearing.
But that means both
- Considering seriously whether it may be correct, but
- also not taking it for granted that it is correct.
In other words, you should consider anything a therapist tells you as a hypothesis, and then check for evidence in your daily life. Ultimately, that means you are going to be doing a ton of the work—the majority of it, actually—on your own anyway.
The bottom line is that taking assessments by yourself is not without risks of misinterpretation — but even if you have a therapist helping you, you have to learn to critically assess their statements. Either way, you ultimately end up assessing yourself.
Tips for Making Good Use of Assessments
Here are a few recommendations to help you get the most out of the assessments I am sharing below:
- Read the instructions thoroughly.
- Try to understand the intent/goal of the assessment (reading the questions themselves can help).
- Most people do best giving their first instinctual answer on most assessments. But this may not be ideal for every person in every situation, especially if you instinctually answer based on how you want to see yourself, not how you are.
- Try to take the assessments based on how you actually behave in real life, not how you envision yourself, want to believe that you are, or would be if you followed your principles perfectly.
- Be motivated. Whether this process helps you at all ultimately depends on whether you really are up for it.
In terms of what being “motivated” means, it is hard to describe. Basically, we tend to keep things in our unconscious because we are protecting ourselves from something—often a dramatic change to our view of ourselves and our place in the world, or even how we see that world or other people in our lives. Even our dysfunctions can become parts of our identities, and it can be extremely hard to walk away from that.
So, I would say being motivated to learn about ourselves, grow, and change for the better actually has to do with losing the motivation to protect ourselves from that process, and that usually requires a reason that is strong enough to overcome the desire to cling to our old beliefs.
Maybe you have found that reason in sports betting. Perhaps you blew through money you needed to pay rent, or funds you saved up for a long time in order to grow your bankroll. Or maybe you are just tired of the feelings of anxiety and inadequacy you wrestle with
every time you place a wager or look over your stats—and you know you are holding yourself back, and you have had enough.
Regardless of the reason, the more of a fire it lights under you, the more you are likely to get out of assessing yourself.
8 Self-Assessments That May Be Useful to You as a Sports Bettor
Now I will share some self-assessments I think might help you out with respect to your sports betting career. If you would like to see any of these, or even do some of these tasks on your own, just click on the header and start down the road to your own self-assessment.
Please bear in mind I am not a mental health professional. This list is just my opinion based on my own thoughts and experiences as a punter with an interest in psychology. If you want professional advice, you need to talk to a qualified psychologist.
Also, never forget that an assessment result is not a diagnosis!
First up is the Honey and Mumford: Learning Styles Questionnaire.
This is an assessment that consists of 80 questions. You check the boxes for statements you agree with and ignore those you disagree with.
What it Measures
This assessment will help you figure out which of the four learning styles most closely fits you:
How Does Learning Style Impact Sports Bettors?
Becoming a winning sports bettor involves a ton of learning! That is true not just in the beginning, but for the duration of your career as a punter. You will be able to learn most effectively if you understand how you learn best. By understanding your style, you can choose the resources and approaches that will help you the most. Also, you will be able to reduce frustrating experiences.
You might even raise your self-esteem, since you will stop blaming yourself (i.e. thinking you are stupid) for not learning in situations where you simply were not equipping yourself for success.
For example, I scored most highly as a “theorist” and least as an “activist.” That means I excel at systemizing, and can make good use of models. It also means I learn best if I can form an overarching theory of understanding for any given concept.
Despite the fact that I am a hands-on learner, I scored low for “activist” because it involves learning activities that don’t fit me (i.e. group discussion, brainstorming, or puzzles).
So, sitting around bouncing ideas back and forth on a forum about betting isn’t likely to help me come up with useful strategies—but grasping the theory and working principles behind some aspect of play for a particular sport may give me a foundation for a betting method.
How Understanding Your Learning Style Can Help
Nothing is more aggravating than feeling like you “just can’t get it” despite putting a ton of effort into learning. It can cause us to feel inadequate, like we just do not have what it takes.
But if you are running into those kind of difficulties learning to bet, maybe you just do not grasp your learning style yet. Once you do, you can not only learn more effectively, but you can feel more confident too!
- Sense of Coherence – Orientation to Life Questionnaire
(This one is a download!)
When you encounter a challenge in sports betting, do you usually feel like you can handle it — or do you worry that you cannot manage it?
Do you struggle to make sense out of your wins or losses, or do the events of your sports betting career usually seem coherent? Is it easy for you to feel that your betting, and other activities in your life, are meaningful, or have the potential to be? Or do you struggle to feel like what you are doing matters?
The Sense of Coherence Scale can provide some valuable insights into these dimensions of your existence.
As explained here , “SOC is defined as: ‘The extent to which one has a pervasive, enduring though dynamic, feeling of confidence that one’s environment is predictable and that things will work out as well as can reasonably be expected.’
In other words, it’s a mixture of optimism and control. It has three components – comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness.”
What it Measures
This refers to how well you feel you are able to manage the events in your life.
This refers to how much sense events in your life tend to make to you.
This refers to whether you are able to feel a sense of purpose or meaning from events or activities in your life.
How Does Sense of Coherence Impact Sports Bettors?
Psych Central explains, “Professor Antonovsky believed that, in general, a person with a strong SOC is more likely to feel less stress and tension, and to believe that he or she can meet demands.”
In general, if you feel you cannot cope, or that there is no coherence to your experiences (or both, as may be the case), functioning at your best becomes more difficult.
You might be prone to feelings of frustration, anxiety or depression. This can impact any area of your life, but it is possible that some areas could be more impacted than others.
For example, you might feel that you are better at managing your sports betting but worse at managing your relationships, or vice versa. You might want to go through the questions once with respect to your overall life, and again with respect to betting in particular.
If you do struggle with comprehensibility or manageability with respect to betting, you could have a hard time with problem-solving as well as emotional regulation.
I am willing to guess that a person with a low sense of comprehensibility or manageability is far more likely to go on tilt than someone who has high scores in these areas.
As for the meaning component, someone who has a high score here is more likely to be able to stay the course when things get tough. Because their betting brings meaning to their life—or because they feel they can pursue life purpose through it—they have stay motivated, but someone who has chronic feelings of emptiness with respect to meaning may have a hard time staying motivated.
How Understanding Sense of Coherence Can Help
It might be obvious to you how you feel with respect to manageability, comprehensibility, and meaning, but maybe it is not. Seeing your scores may shed some light on some of what you feel with respect to betting and some of your behaviors.
Imagine for example that you know you have a pattern of going on tilt a lot, but you do not have a good grasp on why it happens. You just know how desperate, confused, and frustrated you feel when it does.
If you notice your scores are low for manageability and/or comprehensibility, it may no longer seem so surprising that you would easily fall apart. Or, say you are someone with a chronic habit of abandoning projects after you start them, because you just are not “feeling it.” If you score low on “meaning,” that might help you make sense of part of why.
You can also note your strengths. For instance, I score low on manageability and comprehensibility, but high on meaning. So, on days when I am struggling with making sense of why I am losing bets and when my outcomes feel “random,” I can remind myself of the ways in which sports betting
enhances my life. I focus on the sense of joy and fulfilment I get from my accomplishments, and on the freedom having a second stream of income gives me. By doing that, I leverage my strength to keep my head in the game and avoid burning out. You can do the same with your strengths.
Also, if you do identify low scores for any of the aspects of coherence, that gives you something else to look into!
Once I realized my manageability and comprehensibility scores were low, I started looking into the reasons why that was the case.
You will probably find that some reasons are not going to change—but others might. For example, you could discover that you are better at managing your betting (and life in general) than you give yourself credit for.
Your performance might exceed your beliefs about yourself, which could stem from a childhood where you were consistently given a message that you could not cope with things on your own. Once you identify and question the message, the belief may become lessen, your confidence might increase, and so might your sense of manageability and coherence. At that point, you might even find yourself tilting less.
Introducing the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale, the website Open Psychometrics writes, “This scale is the most widely used measure of self esteem for research purposes but it is NOT a diagnostic aid for any for any psychological issues of states… Because the concept of self esteem is one most people should be familiar with, this test will probably not tell you anything you do not already know.”
Indeed, I would agree with this. My own score was pretty average according to the graph, which was more or less what I expected it to be.
What it Measures
This test helps you get an idea of how you perceive yourself in terms of worth, qualities, accomplishments, and so forth.
How Does Self Esteem Impact Sports Bettors?
How you perceive yourself has a huge impact on your life as a sports bettor. If you have low self-esteem, you might:
- Disregard your victories while over-inflating your mistakes and failures, discouraging yourself perpetually.
- Blow off statistics that show that you actually are doing okay – and possibly blow off methods that are working as a result.
- Not trust yourself even when you have a better idea of what to do than someone else does.
- Sabotage your own success by performing below your capabilities because you do not feel you deserve success and/or are afraid to be confronted with evidence that you do deserve it.
In short, low self esteem can cost you money, and lots of it. It can also turn you into a quitter, costing you opportunity.
How Understanding Self Esteem Can Help
Even if you are aware you do have low self esteem already, spending some time thinking about how it could be sabotaging you while betting could be incredibly valuable.
If low self esteem is something you take for granted as “just how I am,” you may want to take this opportunity to examine why it is low. You might tell yourself that your self esteem is low because of something you did or didn’t do, or your general perception of yourself with respect to how you handle things.
But there is a good chance that the origin of your low self esteem has nothing to do with you personally, and has more to do with bad feedback you have received in the past, especially while very young.
If you can learn to raise your self esteem, it becomes less likely that you will sabotage your betting, intentionally or otherwise. But even just being aware of low self esteem can help you to start questioning the negative self-talk in your head, and also be on the lookout for self-destructive patterns.
This is a 37-question test which helps you to assess your degree of alexithymia.
What it Measures
Alexithymia is something of a buzz word right now, so you might be familiar with it. But if you are not, don’t sweat it — a lot of people do not know what it means.
Scientific American explains that alexithymia is defined as “the inability to recognize emotions and their subtleties and textures.”
You may have feelings, but not know what feelings they are. You also might know you are upset, but not know why. Additionally, you may have a hard time recognizing or responding to emotions in others.
How Does Alexithymia Impact Sports Bettors?
Alexithymia might present problems when it comes to emotional regulation. Think, for instance, about times when you might have “suddenly” found yourself going on tilt.
Indeed, tilt is notoriously sneaky. One moment, you feel edgy, but basically okay, and the next, you are wondering what happened to your bankroll. It is pretty hard to regulate your emotions when you do not even recognize them until
they have crept up on you! Emotional decision-making can do a lot of damage before you realize what is going on.
How Understanding Alexithymia Can Help
Once you become aware that you have alexithymia, you can take action to get more in touch with your emotions, able to recognize when you are having them, which ones they are, and how they might be affecting your judgment. What can you do if you have pronounced enough alexithymia to cause you difficulties?
Scientific American recommends everything from psychotherapy to journaling to reading novels or getting involved with the arts as options for increasing your emotional awareness. Regardless of the methods you choose, once you are more attuned to your emotional experiences while betting, you should have better control over your thoughts and actions. That should mean losing less money.
This questionnaire is designed to help you figure out if you have pronounced narcissistic traits.
What it Measures
You should note that this test is aimed at helping you identify traits associated with overt or grandiose narcissism, not covert narcissism, which expresses quite differently. I have not found a useful assessment for covert narcissism. In any case, remember, the results of your NPI are not a diagnosis!
How Does Narcissism Impact Sports Bettors?
Narcissism could influence you while you are betting in a wide range of ways. If you have healthy amounts of narcissistic traits, that can actually be a good thing—but if you have clinical levels of narcissism, that can cause you problems.
There are multiple theories about what causes narcissism. I hold to the idea that narcissism does not represent true high self-esteem, but manifests when there is a weak concept of self that is deeply vulnerable to criticism. Covert narcissists are more likely to be aware of their narcissism than overt narcissists, but recognition is rare in either case because seeing it can threaten the weak self concept.
Here are some potential issues while betting:
- You might feel like you have something to prove all the time, and might take bigger risks than you should to do it.
- You could think you are better at betting than you are, and not see your errors (and as a result, not fix them).
- Alternately, you could be hypersensitive to any mistake you make, and feel deeply discouraged by each of them, feeling as if you can do nothing right.
- You might believe that shortcuts to success should be available to you, because you are special. That belief could stop you from doing what you need to in order to really make it.
Those are just a few examples. There are plenty more.
How Understanding Narcissism Can Help
If narcissistic traits are holding you back when you are betting, figuring it out can be hugely empowering. It probably will not feel that way at first, but you can challenge your beliefs and behaviors.
The most useful thing you can probably do as part of this process is to try and trace the origins of your narcissistic patterns. There is a good chance you will find that they go back to adaptations you made in childhood that no longer are benefiting you today as an adult, but once you see where they came from, you no longer need to take them or the troubles they may have caused you personally. That makes it much easier to address them. It also helps you take other things less personally too—like mistakes you may have made while betting, or the fact that you still
are struggling to achieve success. It is then easier to fix those mistakes too, and to take the next steps you need to in order
to get closer to your goals.
The Life Position Scale tells you where you fall in terms of your perception of yourself and others within the context of Transactional Analysis.
Alas, it seems pretty difficult to locate the test for A Life Position Scale. But if you can find a copy, it is worth taking.
What it Measures
The Life Position Scale test will tell you which of these most closely describes your overall stance toward yourself and others:
- I’m OK – You’re OK
- I’m OK – You’re Not OK
- I’m Not OK – You’re OK
- I’m Not OK – You’re Not OK
How Does Life Position Impact Sports Bettors?
At first glance, this might seem entirely irrelevant to sports betting. But it is one of the most useful things you can examine about yourself, because it sheds light on everything else.
According to TA, we tend to internalize a particular life stance when we are very young. Through the rest of our lives, we continue to operate according to those beliefs unconsciously or otherwise. Because these beliefs are so fundamental, they impact everything we feel and do.
Regarding sports betting, that might mean:
- Disregarding useful advice from other more experienced bettors because we might fundamentally perceive them as “not OK.”
- Constantly warring with low self-esteem and poor confidence in our abilities because we perceive of ourselves as fundamentally “not OK.”
- Sabotaging our own success because we are “not OK,” and therefore do not “deserve” success.
In case you are wondering, some psychologists theorize that the default early life stance is “You’re OK – I’m Not OK.” The reason for this is because as infants, we are 100% dependent on our caregivers and unable yet to make our own decisions. There is a natural imbalance of power. But as we get older, ideally, our life stance should move toward “You’re OK – I’m OK” to be at our most functional.
Alas, for most people, it likely remains at “You’re OK – I’m Not OK” so, if you have never taken the time to examine your own life position, it is worth doing so. You might be surprised by what you find out.
How Understanding Life Position Can Help
Once you know your life position, you can start investigating why it is what it is, and you can begin questioning your underlying beliefs that cause you to perceive yourself or others negatively. As those beliefs change, you may be better able to manage your relationships and your daily activities.
After you realize that you are fundamentally OK as a person, you should find that:
- You can gain more confidence in your abilities, realizing you are as capable as anyone else of learning how to bet successfully.
- You can listen to advice from others and weigh it rationally.
- You can make your own decisions about bets without constantly second-guessing them or their worth.
- You deserve success, and do not need to keep stepping on your own feet.
- Severity of Acute Stress Symptoms—Adult(National Stressful Events Survey Acute Stress Disorder Short Scale [NSESSS])
(This is another download)
While many assessments are designed to help you measure long-term attributes, there are a number of APA questionnaires that were developed to help you measure acute symptoms and experiences. One of those is the Severity of Acute Stress Symptoms survey.
What it Measures
This questionnaire specifically helps you figure out whether you are experience acute (short-term) stress, as opposed to chronic stress.
Some of the symptoms it discusses could crop up due to chronic stress as well, but you are instructed to mark the items based on your experiences within the past seven days only.
How Does Stress Impact Sports Bettors?
As a bettor, you may already be aware of some of the ways in which stress can drag you down while you are betting. In fact, you hopefully do a brief “check in” with yourself regarding your mood before you sit down to plan bets each day. On days when you are super stressed, you might:
- Be more fatigued than usual
- Have trouble concentrating
- Be more prone to making mistakes
- Have a hard time regulating your emotions
- Be prone to tilting
Any or all of the above can quickly drain your bankroll if you are not careful.
How Understanding Stress Can Help
Have you ever started a day betting thinking to yourself, “I know I am a bit off, but how stressed am I?” With this assessment, you can run through the questions and get a feel for how you may actually be doing.
When you know you are extra stressed, you can be more mindful of your betting activities. You can double check for mistakes, since you are aware you may be more prone to them. You can take extra breaks to avoid fatiguing yourself. You can also keep a close watch on your emotions to make sure they do not overwhelm you. And if your stress levels are super high, you can take the day off from betting and
come back fresh when you are ready.
This test helps you figure out whether you largely perceive your locus of control to be internal, external, or somewhere in between.
What it Measures
Your “locus of control” is where you think control rests in your life—within yourself, or subject to outside agencies.
How Does Locus of Control Impact Sports Bettors?
Your beliefs regarding locus of control influence you in every part of your life, but the fact that sports betting involves a combination of skill and luck serves as a major amplifier for those beliefs and their effects. Most people perceive their locus of control to be “somewhere in the middle,” not 100% internal or 100% external, and that is in line with reality.
Those who believe control over their lives is mostly within their own hands:
- Are more likely to perceive their challenges as manageable, and may be less easily discouraged by their losses.
- Might sometimes overestimate the control they possess, and make mistakes as a result.
Those who believe control over lives is mostly out of their hands:
- Are less likely to overestimate the control they possess, which might be helpful in circumnavigating some pitfalls.
- Are more likely to be discouraged by their losses, stressed by how unmanageable challenges seem, and confused by how incoherent their fortunes seem.
- May be more prone to despair when things are not going well, since they feel helpless.
How Understanding Locus of Control Can Help
I suggest looking at your locus of control in conjunction with your sense of coherence. I suspect that if you rate low on your SOC, you will also be more likely to have an external locus of control and vice versa. Indeed, the belief that you do not control your destiny, and that your wins and losses are ultimately out of your hands, can contribute to your low SOC scores.
What makes this especially ironic is that the stress you experience as a result of that as well as the continual low estimation you have of your abilities can make you more prone to losses. But once you start addressing your external locus of control and maybe some of the reasons for it (i.e. being raised by parents who did not recognize your boundaries or capabilities), you can start revising your beliefs in helpful ways.
What if you have a high internal locus of control? You can use the corresponding confidence you get with that to your advantage.
But just a reminder—sports betting involves a huge amount of chance! So, you need to be careful that you do not overestimate your abilities. You can learn to navigate the seas of chance, but you cannot tame them. If you lose sight of that, you will lose money you did not need to lose. So, regardless of whether your locus of control is internal or external, knowing where it is can help you protect your bankroll.
Conclusion: The More You Learn About Your Psychology as a Bettor, the More Control You Gain Over Your Betting Career
Now you are familiar with a number of different self-assessments that might help you out when you are working on your betting psychology. There are plenty more out there, so continue exploring if you find these resources helpful to start. While I stress again that taking self-assessments on your own does not substitute for talking to a professional or receiving a diagnosis, you may be surprised by just how much
you can learn and transform on your own. Many of the things these assessments look at are so basic that they might seem like they
cannot possibly be life-changing—but underneath our complexities, there are often surprisingly simple beliefs and assumptions driving our behaviors and directing our lives.
Once you start to understand those beliefs and assumptions, you can gain an unparalleled level of control of your thoughts, behaviors and emotions. In terms of your sports betting, that is going to translate to better decision-making and
emotional regulation all around. As a result, it will be easier for you to stay focused on your betting, stress less, and walk a
smoother path toward success.
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