The hot hand in basketball: On the misperception of random sequences


Authors: 
Gilovich, T., Vallone, R., & Tversky, A.
Category: 
Volume: 
17(3)
Pages: 
295-314
Year: 
1985
Publisher: 
Cognitive Psychology
Abstract: 

People's intuitive conceptions of randomness have been found to depart systematically from the laws of chance. This is illustrated in the game of basketball. Players and fans have been found to believe in "streak shooting," a phenomenon involving the belief that players have a better chance to get a basket after a few successful attempts despite the statistical odds against such an occurrence. This misconception seems to affect how the game is played as well since many coaches and players believe that it is important to pass the basketball to a player that has successfully attempted most shots. This finding is consistent with "gambler's fallacy." It is suggested that the belief in the law of small numbers could be due to performance heuristics since strings of successful shots are more memorable than mixed ones.

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