What’s Next? Judging Sequences of Binary Events
Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 135, No. 2, pp. 262-285, 2009
24 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2010
Date Written: 2009
The authors review research on judgments of random and nonrandom sequences involving binary events with a focus on studies documenting gambler’s fallacy and hot hand beliefs. The domains of judgment include random devices, births, lotteries, sports performances, stock prices, and others. After discussing existing theories of sequence judgments, the authors conclude that in many everyday settings people have naive complex models of the mechanisms they believe generate observed events, and they rely on these models for explanations, predictions, and other inferences about event sequences. The authors next introduce an explanation-based, mental models framework for describing people’s beliefs about binary sequences, based on 4 perceived characteristics of the sequence generator: randomness, intentionality, control, and goal complexity. Furthermore, they propose a Markov process framework as a useful theoretical notation for the description of mental models and for the analysis of actual event sequences.
Keywords: hot hand, streaks, gambler’s fallacy, binary sequence, Markov process
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