The Psychology of Solitaire: Why This Solo Card Game Is So Addictive

Are you someone who finds themselves spending hours on end playing solitaire on their computer or phone? Have you ever wondered why this simple card game can be so addicting? In this article, we will delve into the psychology behind the game of solitaire and explore why it has captured the hearts of so many players worldwide.

What is Solitaire?

Solitaire, also known as Patience, is a popular single-player card game that involves sorting cards into specific sequences. The game can be played with a standard 52-card deck or various other variations depending on the rules. The goal of solitaire is to build foundation piles by suit and in ascending order, starting with the Ace and ending with the King.

The Appeal of Solitaire

1. Relaxation and Stress Relief

One of the main reasons why solitaire is so addictive is its ability to provide relaxation and stress relief. The repetitive nature of the game, combined with the soothing sound of cards being shuffled and placed, can be incredibly calming for players. It serves as a form of escapism from the stresses of everyday life.

2. Sense of Accomplishment

Winning a game of solitaire can provide players with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The feeling of being able to strategize and solve the game on your own can be incredibly rewarding. This sense of achievement motivates players to continue playing and improving their skills.

3. Challenge and Problem-Solving

Solitaire offers a unique challenge to players as each game is different and requires strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. Players must carefully consider each move and anticipate the consequences of their actions. This mental stimulation keeps players engaged and coming back for more.

4. Accessibility

Another reason why solitaire is so addictive is its accessibility. The game can be played virtually anywhere, from your computer to your phone or even with a physical deck of cards. This convenience allows players to indulge in a quick game whenever they have a few spare minutes, making it a perfect way to pass the time.

The Psychology Behind Solitaire Addiction

1. Dopamine Release

When a player successfully completes a move or wins a game of solitaire, their brain releases dopamine, also known as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. This surge of dopamine reinforces the behavior and prompts players to continue playing in search of that same feeling of pleasure and satisfaction.

2. Variable Rewards

Solitaire offers players variable rewards, meaning that the outcome of each game is uncertain. This unpredictability keeps players engaged as they strive to achieve a win. The intermittent reinforcement of winning keeps players coming back for more, much like the allure of gambling.

3. Escalation of Commitment

The sunk cost fallacy comes into play when players invest time and effort into a game of solitaire. Even if they experience losses or setbacks, they may continue playing in hopes of recouping their perceived losses. This escalation of commitment can lead to increased playtime and heightened addiction to the game.

4. Social Comparison

For some players, solitaire serves as a form of social comparison. They may strive to beat their own high scores or compete with friends and family members to see who can win the most games. This element of competition adds another layer of motivation and engagement to the game.


In conclusion, the psychology of solitaire reveals why this solo card game is so addictive for many players. Its calming nature, sense of accomplishment, strategic challenge, and variable rewards all contribute to its widespread appeal. Whether you play solitaire for relaxation, entertainment, or competition, there is no denying the allure of this classic game. So next time you find yourself reaching for a deck of cards or your phone to play solitaire, remember the psychological factors at play that make it so irresistible.


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