Article

Gambler's Fallacy

Ulrike Hahn

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online November 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0027
Gambler's Fallacy

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The Gambler’s Fallacy is a mistaken belief about sequences of random events. Observing, for example, a long run of “black” on the roulette wheel leads to an expectation that “red” is now more likely to occur on the next trial. In other words, the Gambler’s Fallacy is the belief that a “run” or “streak” of a given outcome lowers the probability of observing that outcome on the next trial. The Gambler’s Fallacy is one of several biases or errors found in people’s perceptions of randomness. For statistically independent events such as the outcomes of a coin toss or a roulette wheel, there is simply no connection between events; coins and roulette wheels have no memory, and there can consequently be no systematic connection between the outcomes on successive trials. Nevertheless, the Gambler’s Fallacy can feel intuitively quite compelling, even to the statistically minded, and while it has often been fashionable within psychology to highlight humans’ irrationality and cognitive frailty, understanding the nature of chance really requires knowledge of probability theory, combinatorics, and randomness. Without these tools, fallacious and non-fallacious beliefs about chance cannot reliably be distinguished (see Why the Gambler’s Fallacy is a Fallacy).There are presently no monographs or introductions specifically on the Gambler’s Fallacy, so an understanding of the topic must be assembled from a range of different sources.

Article.  7041 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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