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Subjective Patterns of Randomness and Choice: Some Consequences of Collective Responses

Falk, R., Falk, R. & Ayton, P. (2009). Subjective Patterns of Randomness and Choice: Some Consequences of Collective Responses. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35(1), pp. 203-224. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.35.1.203


Any individual's response intended to be random should be as probable as any other. However, 3 experiments show that many people's independent responses depart from the expected chance distribution. Participants responding to instructions of chance and related concepts favor the available options unequally in a similar way. Consequently, in hide-and-seek games, hiders converge on certain locations and are thereby detected beyond chance by seekers who share their preferences. People agree on salient and on nonsalient options, both of which are preferred under different instructions and even in the absence of instructions. Group responses strongly correlate under diverse, even opposing (e.g., competitive and cooperative) directions. Apparently, common default tendencies, combining random and aesthetic choices, are only somewhat modified under specific instructions. Maximal agreement with others is obtained by implementing one's own aesthetic preferences. These results broadly replicate in one- and two-dimensional tasks. Implications of the findings, their possible roots, and their connection to constructs from, e.g., game theory and subjective-complexity research, are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Publisher Keywords: Randomness; Hide-and-seek; Competition versus cooperation; Aesthetics; Default tendencies.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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