The intentional mind and the hot hand: Perceiving intentions makes streaks seem likely to continue

Eugene M. Caruso*, Adam Waytz, Nicholas Epley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


People can appear inconsistent in their intuitions about sequences of repeated events. Sometimes people believe such sequences will continue (the "hot hand"), and sometimes people believe they will reverse (the "gambler's fallacy"). These contradictory intuitions can be partly explained by considering the perceived intentionality of the agent generating the streak. The intuition that streaks will continue (reverse) should emerge in contexts involving agents that are perceived to be intentional (unintentional), and should be most common among those who are most inclined to attribute intentions to other agents. Four studies support these predictions, identifying both situational and dispositional determinants of the perceived continuity of streaks. Discussion focuses on the foundational nature of intentionality for perceptions of interdependence between events, the relationship between these findings and existing theoretical accounts, and the inverse possibility that people use perceptions of streakiness as a cue for an agent's intentionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-153
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Gambler's fallacy
  • Hot hand
  • Intention
  • Streaks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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