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The representativeness heuristic and the choice of lottery tickets: A field experiment

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  • MichaÅ‚ Wiktor Krawczyk
  • Joanna Rachubik

Abstract

The representativeness heuristic (RH) has been proposed to be at the root of several types of biases in judgment. In this project, we ask whether the RH is relevant in two kinds of choices in the context of gambling. Specifically, in a field experiment with naturalistic stimuli and a potentially extremely high monetary pay-out, we give each of our subjects a choice between a lottery ticket with a random-looking number sequence and a ticket with a patterned sequence; we subsequently offer them a small cash bonus if they switch to the other ticket. In the second task, we investigate the gambler’s fallacy, asking subjects what they believe the outcome of a fourth coin toss after a sequence of three identical outcomes will be. We find that most subjects prefer “random†sequences, and that approximately half believe in dependence between subsequent coin tosses. There is no correlation, though, between the initial choice of the lottery ticket and the prediction of the coin toss. Nonetheless, subjects who have a strong preference for certain number combinations (i.e., subjects who are willing to forgo the cash bonus and remain with their initial choice) also tend to predict a specific outcome (in particular a reversal, corresponding to the gambler’s fallacy) in the coin task.

Suggested Citation

  • MichaÅ‚ Wiktor Krawczyk & Joanna Rachubik, 2019. "The representativeness heuristic and the choice of lottery tickets: A field experiment," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 14(1), pages 51-57, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:14:y:2019:i:1:p:51-57
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