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Decision-Making under the Gambler's Fallacy: Evidence from Asylum Judges, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Chen
  • Tobias J. Moskowitz
  • Kelly Shue

Abstract

We find consistent evidence of negative autocorrelation in decision-making that is unrelated to the merits of the cases considered in three separate high-stakes field settings: refugee asylum court decisions, loan application reviews, and major league baseball umpire pitch calls. The evidence is most consistent with the law of small numbers and the gambler's fallacy – people underestimating the likelihood of sequential streaks occurring by chance – leading to negatively autocorrelated decisions that result in errors. The negative autocorrelation is stronger among more moderate and less experienced decision-makers, following longer streaks of decisions in one direction, when the current and previous cases share similar characteristics or occur close in time, and when decision-makers face weaker incentives for accuracy. Other explanations for negatively autocorrelated decisions such as quotas, learning, or preferences to treat all parties fairly, are less consistent with the evidence, though we cannot completely rule out sequential contrast effects as an alternative explanation.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Chen & Tobias J. Moskowitz & Kelly Shue, 2016. "Decision-Making under the Gambler's Fallacy: Evidence from Asylum Judges, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires," NBER Working Papers 22026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22026
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthew Rabin & Dimitri Vayanos, 2010. "The Gambler's and Hot-Hand Fallacies: Theory and Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 730-778.
    2. 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.
    3. Shawn Cole & Martin Kanz & Leora Klapper, 2015. "Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: Evidence from an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(2), pages 537-575, April.
    4. 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 309-317, May.
    5. Uri Simonsohn, 2006. "New Yorkers Commute More Everywhere: Contrast Effects in the Field," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-9, February.
    6. Joshua B. Miller & Adam Sanjurjo, 2014. "A Cold Shower for the Hot Hand Fallacy," Working Papers 518, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    7. Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "Coarse Thinking and Persuasion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 577-619.
    8. Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Inference by Believers in the Law of Small Numbers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 775-816.
    9. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2015. "Salience Theory of Judicial Decisions," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(S1), pages 7-33.
    10. Uri Simonsohn & George Loewenstein, 2006. "Mistake #37: The Effect of Previously Encountered Prices on Current Housing Demand," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 175-199, January.
    11. Saurabh Bhargava & Ray Fisman, 2014. "Contrast Effects in Sequential Decisions: Evidence from Speed Dating," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 444-457, July.
    12. Elena Asparouhova & Michael Hertzel & Michael Lemmon, 2009. "Inference from Streaks in Random Outcomes: Experimental Evidence on Beliefs in Regime Shifting and the Law of Small Numbers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(11), pages 1766-1782, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Sclerotization of the Judiciary: Judicial Exits from the U.S. Courts of Appeals are Politically Motivated," TSE Working Papers 16-721, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.
    2. Chen, Daniel L. & Dunn, Matt & Sagun, Levent & Sirin, Hale, 2017. "Early Predictability of Asylum Court Decisions," TSE Working Papers 17-781, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. Chen, Daniel L. & Prescott, J.J., 2016. "Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants," IAST Working Papers 16-56, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    4. Berdejo, Carlos & Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Electoral Cycles Among U.S. Courts of Appeals Judges," TSE Working Papers 16-704, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    5. repec:kap:fmktpm:v:32:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11408-018-0311-x is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Samuel M. Hartzmark & Kelly Shue, 2017. "A Tough Act to Follow: Contrast Effects In Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 23883, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. repec:eee:irlaec:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:1-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "This Morning's Breakfast, Last Night's Game: Detecting Extraneous Factors in Judging," IAST Working Papers 16-49, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    9. Daniel J. Benjamin & Don A. Moore & Matthew Rabin, 2017. "Biased Beliefs About Random Samples: Evidence from Two Integrated Experiments," NBER Working Papers 23927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Mood and the Malleability of Moral Reasoning," TSE Working Papers 16-707, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.
    11. Chen, Daniel L. & Halberstam, Yosh & Yu, Alan, 2016. "Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of Voice in the U.S. Supreme Court," TSE Working Papers 16-680, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Aug 2016.
    12. Philippe, Arnaud, 2017. "Do jurors and professional judges differ in their treatment of crime?: Evidence from French reform," TSE Working Papers 17-763, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • Z2 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics

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