The Limits of Control - Happy Days Blog - NYTimes.com
Studies show that people feel more confident they’ll win at dice if they toss the dice themselves than if others toss them , and that they are likely to bet more money if they make their wager before the dice are tossed than afterward (where the outcome has been concealed). They’ll value a lottery ticket more if they can choose it than if it is given to them at random. And in a well-known 1975 study in which Yale University students were asked to predict the results of coin tosses, a significant number of presumably intelligent Yalies believed their performance could improve through practice, and would have been hampered if they’d been distracted. In each of these situations, the subjects knew that the enterprises in which they were engaged were unpredictable and beyond their control. When questioned, for example, none of the lottery players said they believed that being allowed to choose their card influenced their probability of winning. Yet on a deep, subconscious level they must have felt it did, because they behaved as if it did.