The Effects of Selective Hypothesis Testing on Gambling

Bryan Gibson, David M. Sanbonmatsu, Steven S. Posavac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The role of selective hypothesis testing in probability overestimation and gambling behavior was explored in 3 experiments. Participants in each experiment who evaluated the probability of success of a National Basketball Association team overestimated the probability that the focal team would win, were more likely to bet on the focal team than on other teams, and were more willing to gamble in general than control participants. The results demonstrate that selective hypothesis-testing processes increase willingness to gamble. Data suggest that this increased willingness to gamble is mediated by the overestimation of the probability of the focal outcome and the increased desire to bet on the focal outcome. These results illuminate a cognitive mechanism that can lead to gambling and suggest some potential strategies that may help reduce the likelihood that such risky decisions are made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-142
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1997


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