The number of people who have fallen in love with marbles has doubled in the past three decades, according to new research.
The findings, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are the latest to challenge the popular image of marbles as simple and easy to play.
Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia examined a huge database of marblings, looking for patterns in how people who liked marbles would approach their creations.
They found that they tended to spend less time and effort playing them.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot more time consuming than a ball or a pinball,” Professor Andrew Smith, who led the research, said.
“People tend to spend more time with marbling than with a ball, so it seems to be more of a fun, less of a challenging activity.”
The research also found that a lot less people had ever seen a marble.
“There is this misconception that marble play is easy, so people don’t spend enough time with them,” Professor Smith said.
But a lot can be learned from the results.
“If we’re going to develop a better model of the human brain and how we use that to make choices, we need to do more work with marblers, rather than just ball or pinball marbles,” he said.
Professor Smith and his team also found a strong correlation between happiness and playing marbles, and that people who were happy were more likely to play marbles.
In a separate study, the researchers found that marbles had the strongest effect on the brain’s reward system.
“These findings suggest that when it comes to the brain, happiness and play can be mutually reinforcing,” Professor David Gartrell, who was not involved in the new study, said in a statement.
“When we have more opportunities to enjoy and learn, we are more likely not only to be happy, but to be able to use the experiences to create our own happiness and wellbeing.”