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

See all articles by Jonathan J. Koehler

Jonathan J. Koehler

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

Robin M. Hogarth

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences

Brian J Gibbs

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Business School

Date Written: September 1, 1994

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Koehler, Jonathan J. and Hogarth, Robin M. and Gibbs, Brian J., Shattering the Illusion of Control: Multi-shot Versus Single-Shot Gambles (September 1, 1994). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Vol. 7, p. 183, 1994. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1469679

Jonathan J. Koehler (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Robin M. Hogarth

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
34 93 542 2561 (Phone)
34 93 542 1746 (Fax)

Brian J. Gibbs

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Business School ( email )

200 Leicester Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053 3186
Australia
+61 3 9349 8183 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mbs.edu

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