Culture and gambling fallacies

Euro-Canadians and Chinese typically hold different theories about change; Euro-Canadians often engage in linear thinking whereas Chinese often engage in non-linear thinking. The present research investigated the effects of culture-specific theories of change in two related gambling fallacies: the gambler’s fallacy (GF; the belief that one is due for a win after a run of losses) and the hot-hand fallacy (HHF; the belief that one’s winning streak is likely to continue). In Study 1, participants predicted the outcome of a coin toss following a sequence of tosses. Study 2 involved predicting and betting on the outcome of a basketball player’s shot following a sequence of shots. In Study 1, Asians (mainly Chinese) were significantly more likely than Euro-Canadians to believe that they would win (correctly predict the coin toss) after a series of losses (a non-linear thinking pattern), suggesting greater susceptibility to the gambler’s fallacy. In Study 2, Euro-Canadians were more likely than Chinese to predict outcomes consistent with a basketball player’s streaks (a linear thinking pattern), suggesting greater susceptibility to the hot hand fallacy. By illustrating the role of cultural differences in cognition, these findings contribute to our understanding of why certain cultural groups, such as Chinese, are more susceptible to gambling.

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