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Gambler's fallacy, hot hand belief, and the time of patterns

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  • Yanlong Sun
  • Hongbin Wang
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    Abstract

    The gambler's fallacy and the hot hand belief have been classified as two exemplars of human misperceptions of random sequential events. This article examines the times of pattern occurrences where a fair or biased coin is tossed repeatedly. We demonstrate that, due to different pattern composition, two different statistics (mean time and waiting time) can arise from the same independent Bernoulli trials. When the coin is fair, the mean time is equal for all patterns of the same length but the waiting time is the longest for streak patterns. When the coin is biased, both mean time and waiting time change more rapidly with the probability of heads for a streak pattern than for a non-streak pattern. These facts might provide a new insight for understanding why people view streak patterns as rare and remarkable. The statistics of waiting time may not justify the prediction by the gambler's fallacy, but paying attention to streaks in the hot hand belief appears to be meaningful in detecting the changes in the underlying process.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 5 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 124-132

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:5:y:2010:i:2:p:124-132

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    Related research

    Keywords: gambler's fallacy; hot hand belief; heuristics; mean time; waiting time.;

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    Cited by:
    1. Andrey Kudryavtsev & Gil Cohen & Shlomit Hon-Snir, 2013. "“Rational” or “Intuitive”: Are Behavioral Biases Correlated Across Stock Market Investors?," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 7(2), June.

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