*Chart of the Day – 11.27.2008


CHART OF THE DAY….Via Overcoming Bias, three French researchers surveyed 1,540 people and offered them the opportunity to play a game in which a coin is tossed ten times and they’ll win ten euros each time it comes up heads. “The participant is then asked for his/her own estimation, according to his/her experience and his/her luck, of the number of times heads will occur, i.e. how many times (out of ten) he/she thinks he/she is going to win (and get 10 euros).” What do you think is the most terrifying aspect of this survey?

  1. The mean answer was 3.9.

  2. About ten people thought they would win every single toss.

  3. The authors managed to produce a 21-page paper out of this.

The full survey is here. The authors also note that women are more pessimistic than men; old people are more pessimistic than young; and that nearly everyone answers “five” if monetary gain is removed from the question. In other words, people seem to know the odds, they just think the universe is stacked against them. (Or that the researchers are going to cheat. Take your pick.)

The exception, of course, is those ten respondents who think they’ll win every time. Here in America, we call those people “investment bankers.”

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