Shattering the Illusion of Control: Multi-shot Versus Single-Shot Gambles
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Vol. 7, p. 183, 1994
10 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 1, 1994
The illusion of control refers to a phenomenon whereby people believe their chances of success at a task are greater than would be warranted by objective analysis. This article raises two questions. First, how robust is the illusion of control? Second, how might the illusion be ‘shattered?’ Previous experimental demonstrations involved situations that can be likened to unique or single-shot gambles. If, however, the phenomenon is robust, it should occur in repeated or multi-shot gambles in which the outcome depends on a series of gambles involving the same underlying random process. It should also appear in single-shot gambles that are framed so as to superficially resemble multi-shot gambles. We label this the strong illusion of control hypothesis. On the other hand, because people have a better appreciation of probabilistic concepts in tasks they are able to represent as relative frequencies, the introduction of a multi-shot or pseudo-multi-shot’ context might cue people to the random nature of the task, thereby shattering the illusion. The weak illusion of control hypothesis holds that the illusion of control will occur in single-shot but not in multi-shot or pseudo-multi-shot gambles. Two studies are reported that support the weak hypothesis. Alternative explanations are considered and implications are discussed.
Keywords: Illusion of control, randomness, relative frequencies
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