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

  • Falk R
  • Falk R
  • Ayton P
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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 distribu-tion. 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., compet-itive 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 through one's own aesthetic choices. Hence, implementing one's personal aesthetic preferences succeeds in matching others' choices even better than deliberate mutual coordination efforts. These results broadly replicate in 1-and 2-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.

Author-supplied keywords

  • aesthetics
  • competition versus cooperation
  • default tendencies
  • hide-and-seek
  • randomness

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