What Does a Random Line Look Like: An Experimental Study
The study examined the perception of random lines by people with gambling problems compared to people without gambling problems. The sample consisted of 67 probable pathological gamblers and 46 people without gambling problems. Participants completed a number of questionnaires about their gambling and were then presented with a series of random and non-random lines. The participants rated lines as random if the pattern stayed near zero (the middle of the screen) and did not form anything that resembled waves. The probable pathological gamblers rated 2 of the patterns (jumps, and multi-wave) as significantly less random than non-problem gamblers. They also rated random lines significantly less random than the non-problem gamblers. That is, they seem to be able to find patterns both when they are really there and when they only appear to be there as in the case of random drift.
KeywordsProblem gambling Random chance Erroneous beliefs
We would like to thank Keith Stanovich, Roger Horbay, and Geoff Noonan for their help in designing and carrying out this study.
The research was supported by a grant from the National Centre for Responsible Gaming. In addition, support to CAMH for salary of scientists and infrastructure has been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care or the National Centre for Responsible Gaming.
- Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1982). Judgement under uncertainty: heuristics and biases. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic & A. Tversky (Eds.), Judgement under uncertainty (pp. 3–22). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Langer, E. J. (1983). The psychology of control. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- McCleary, R., & Hay, E. E. (1980). Applied time series analysis for the social sciences. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
- Turner, N. E. (2000). Randomness, does it matter? Electronic Journal of Gambling Issues. Issue 2. Available at http://www.camh.net/egambling/issue2/research/.
- Turner, N. E. & Liu, E. (1999). The naive human concept of random events. Paper presented at the 1999 conference of the American Psychological Association, Boston, Aug.Google Scholar