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Biases in casino betting: The hot hand and the gambler's fallacy

  • James Sundali
  • Rachel Croson

We examine two departures of individual perceptions of randomness from probability theory: the hot hand and the gambler's fallacy, and their respective opposites. This paper's first contribution is to use data from the field (individuals playing roulette in a casino) to demonstrate the existence and impact of these biases that have been previously documented in the lab. Decisions in the field are consistent with biased beliefs, although we observe significant individual heterogeneity in the population. A second contribution is to separately identify these biases within a given individual, then to examine their within-person correlation. We find a positive and significant correlation across individuals between hot hand and gambler's fallacy biases, suggesting a common (root) cause of the two related errors. We speculate as to the source of this correlation (locus of control), and suggest future research which could test this speculation.

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

Volume (Year): 1 (2006)
Issue (Month): (July)
Pages: 1-12

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Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:1:y:2006:i::p:1-12
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  1. Ann-Renée Blais & Elke U. Weber, 2006. "A Domain-Specific Risk-Taking (DOSPERT)Scale for Adult Populations," CIRANO Working Papers 2006s-24, CIRANO.
  2. Weber, Elke U. & Anderson, Carolyn J. & Birnbaum, Michael H., 1992. "A theory of perceived risk and attractiveness," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 492-523, August.
  3. Ann-Renée Blais & Elke U. Weber, 2006. "A Domain-Specific Risk-Taking (DOSPERT) scale for adult populations," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 33-47, July.
  4. Baron, Jonathan & Ritov, Ilana, 2004. "Omission bias, individual differences, and normality," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 74-85, July.
  5. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
  6. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  7. Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
  8. Rachel Croson & James Sundali, 2005. "The Gambler’s Fallacy and the Hot Hand: Empirical Data from Casinos," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 195-209, May.
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