Winners wanted: lucky bastards need not apply

A delightful experiment in the Journal of Gambling Studies demonstrates how susceptible we are to social persuasion to the point where even our established cognitive biases yield to the influence of others.

The illusion of control is the tendency to believe that we have influence over uncontrollable events. It has been well demonstrated in gamblers who may often put down wins and losses to their skills and abilities, even on games like roulette where the outcomes are entirely random.

This new study found that roulette players who learnt that someone else had recently ‘won big’ had an increased illusion of control, expected to win more and made more risky gambles while playing.

However, this effect virtually disappeared simply by adding that the ‘big winner’ had put down his bonanza to sheer luck.

Link to PubMed abstract for gambling study.

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