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Illusion of control

Illusion of control is the tendency for human beings to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they demonstrably have no influence over.

The predominant paradigm in research on unrealistic perceived control has been Ellen Langer’s (1975) 'illusion of control'.

Langer showed that people often behave as if chance events are accessible to personal control.

In a series of experiments, Langer demonstrated first the prevalence of the illusion of control and second, that people were more likely to behave as if they could exercise control in a chance situation where 'skill cues' were present.

By skill cues, Langer meant properties of the situation more normally associated with the exercise of skill, in particular the exercise of choice, competition, familiarity with the stimulus and involvement in decisions.

One simple form of this fallacy is found in casinos: when rolling dice in craps, it has been shown that people tend to throw harder for high numbers and softer for low numbers.

Note: This article excerpts material from the Wikipedia article "Illusion of control", which is released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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