Hot Hand Fallacy…in Monkeys???

///Hot Hand Fallacy…in Monkeys???

Hot Hand Fallacy…in Monkeys???

By | 2017-08-18T17:03:47+00:00 May 8th, 2014|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Hot hand bias in rhesus monkeys


Human decision-makers often exhibit the hot-hand phenomenon, a tendency to perceive positive serial autocorrelations in independent sequential events. The term is named after the observation that basketball fans and players tend to perceive streaks of high accuracy shooting when they are demonstrably absent. That is, both observing fans and participating players tend to hold the belief that a player’s chance of hitting a shot are greater following a hit than following a miss. We hypothesize that this bias reflects a strong and stable tendency among primates (including humans) to perceive positive autocorrelations in temporal sequences, that this bias is an adaptation to clumpy foraging environments, and that it may even be ecologically rational. Several studies support this idea in humans, but a stronger test would be to determine whether non-human primates also exhibit a hot hand bias. Here we report behavior of three monkeys performing a novel gambling task in which correlation between sequential gambles (i.e., temporal clumpiness) is systematically manipulated. We find that monkeys have better performance (meaning, more optimal behavior) for clumped (positively correlated) than for dispersed (negatively correlated) distributions. These results identify and quantify a new bias in monkeys’ risky decisions, support accounts that specifically incorporate cognitive biases into risky choice, and support the suggestion that the hot-hand phenomenon is an evolutionary ancient bias.

Alpha Highlight:

Okay, this is just weird…

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About the Author:

After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray earned a PhD, and worked as a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in bridging the research gap between academia and industry led him to found Alpha Architect, an asset management that delivers affordable active exposures for tax-sensitive investors. Dr. Gray has published four books and a number of academic articles. Wes is a regular contributor to multiple industry outlets, to include the following: Wall Street Journal, Forbes,, and the CFA Institute. Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a BS from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


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