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The gambler’s fallacy in retrospect: A supplementary comment on Oppenheimer and Monin (2009).

Matthews, William J (2010) 'The gambler’s fallacy in retrospect: A supplementary comment on Oppenheimer and Monin (2009).' Judgment and Decision Making, 5 (2). pp. 133-137. ISSN 1930-2975

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Oppenheimer and Monin (2009) recently found that subjectively rare events are taken to indicate a longer preceding sequence of unobserved trials than subjectively common events, an effect which they refer to as the retrospective gambler’s fallacy. The current paper extends this idea to the situation where participants judge the likelihood of streak continuation. Participants were told about a streak produced by a random process (coin flips) or human performance (basketball shots), and either predicted the next outcome or inferred the immediately preceding outcome. For the coin scenarios, participants tended to expect streak termination – the gambler’s fallacy — and this effect was the same for predictions and retrospective inferences. In the basketball scenarios, no overall bias was found in either prospective or retrospective judgments. The results support Oppenheimer and Monin’s suggestion that reconstruction of the past entails the same heuristics as prediction of the future; they also support the idea that the nature of the data-generating process is a key determinant of whether people fall into the gambler’s fallacy. It is suggested that the term retrospective gambler’s fallacy be used to describe situations where a streak is taken to indicate that the preceding unobserved outcome was of the opposite type, and that the phenomenon discovered by Oppenheimer and Monin be referred to as retrospective representativeness, or a retrospective belief in the law of small numbers.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: gambler’s fallacy; hot hand fallacy; representativeness; retrospective gambler’s fallacy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2011 16:28
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2011 16:28

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