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The Gambler's and Hot-Hand Fallacies: Theory and Applications

  • Rabin, Matthew
  • Vayanos, Dimitri

We develop a model of the gambler's fallacy -- the mistaken belief that random sequences should exhibit systematic reversals. We show that an individual who holds this belief and observes a sequence of signals can exaggerate the magnitude of changes in an underlying state but underestimate their duration. When the state is constant, and so signals are \textit{i.i.d.}, the individual can predict that long streaks of similar signals will continue -- a hot-hand fallacy. When signals are serially correlated, the individual typically under-reacts to short streaks, over-reacts to longer ones, and under-reacts to very long ones. We explore several applications, showing, for example, that investors may move assets too much in and out of mutual funds, and exaggerate the value of financial information and expertise.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6081.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6081
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  1. Ravi Jagannathan & Alexey Malakhov & Dmitry Novikov, 2006. "Do Hot Hands Exist Among Hedge Fund Managers? An Empirical Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 12015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Matthew Rabin & Dimitri Vayanos, 2005. "The Gambler's and Hot-Hand Fallacies In a Dynamic-Inference Model," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000972, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Baquero, G. & Verbeek, M.J.C.M., 2006. "Do Sophisticated Investors Believe in the Law of Small Numbers?," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2006-033-F&A, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  4. Barberis, Nicholas & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1998. "A model of investor sentiment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 307-343, September.
  5. Chevalier, J. & Ellison, G., 1996. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," Working papers 96-3, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Erik R. Sirri & Peter Tufano, 1998. "Costly Search and Mutual Fund Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1589-1622, October.
  8. Jonathan B. Berk & Richard C. Green, 2002. "Mutual Fund Flows and Performance in Rational Markets," FAME Research Paper Series rp100, International Center for Financial Asset Management and Engineering.
  9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:775-816 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
  11. R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010. "The equity premium: a puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1401, David K. Levine.
  12. Charles T. Clotfelter & Philip J. Cook, 1991. "The "Gambler's Fallacy" in Lottery Play," NBER Working Papers 3769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Terrell, Dek, 1994. "A Test of the Gambler's Fallacy: Evidence from Pari-mutuel Games," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 309-17, May.
  14. Camerer, Colin F, 1989. "Does the Basketball Market Believe in the 'Hot Hand'?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1257-61, December.
  15. Fama, Eugene F, 1991. " Efficient Capital Markets: II," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(5), pages 1575-617, December.
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