Shattering the illusion of control: Multi‐shot versus single‐shot gambles

Jonathan J. Koehler*, Brian J. Gibbs, Robin M. Hogarth

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Scopus citations

    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.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)183-191
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
    Volume7
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

    Keywords

    • Illusion of control
    • Randomness
    • Relative frequencies

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Decision Sciences(all)
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Applied Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Strategy and Management

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