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Clustering Illusion

 

Explanations > Theories > Clustering Illusion

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

We often see patterns where they do not exist.

This is particularly true of gamblers who desperately try to 'beat the system' by seeing patterns of events in cards and other games of chance.

We are 'pattern machines' and recognize people and things from their overall pattern rather than full detail. This is very useful, but it does also mean we can see patterns where there are none.

Research

Gilovich, Vallone and Tversky investigated the myth of the 'hot hand' in basketball where players are supposed to have winning streaks. It turned out that it was all random patterns.

Example

Is 'OXXXOXXXOXXOOOXOOXXOO' random? Or can you see patterns? Many could, yet it is almost perfectly random.

So What?

Using it

Use patterns of events in your persuasive pitch. People will likely cotton on and believe you.

Defending

Think hard before betting on any apparent pattern, especially if somebody else is selling it to you.

See also

Bounded Rationality, Perceptual Contrast Effect

References

 

 

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