Winning Streak, Really?

Peter Ayton City University London, United Kingdom

Ayton_PeterPeter Ayton studies our judgment and decision making processes, especially where those processes often go wrong. He has investigated judgment errors like the hot-hand fallacy, in which people tend to expect that recent positive successes within a random sequence will continue—like a basketball player on a “hot” shooting streak—and the related gambler’s fallacy, in which people expect that such a positive or negative streak will eventually be balanced out. Ayton has also examined the ways in which these fallacies can harm us, such as the increase in bicyclist deaths in the aftermath of the 2005 London underground bombing, as fear caused many people to abandon the subway in favor of cycling—statistically a much more dangerous mode of transportation. His research has helped bring to light our judgment errors in all aspects of modern life, including sports, health, and computing.