Guessing imagined and live chance events: adults behave like children with live events

Elizabeth Robinson, JE Pendle, MG Rowley, Sarah Beck, KL McColgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


An established finding is that adults prefer to guess before rather than after a chance event has happened. This is interpreted in terms of aversion to guessing when relatively incompetent: After throwing, the fall could be known. Adults (N=71, mean age 18;11, N=28, mean age 48;0) showed this preference with imagined die-throwing as in the published studies. With live die-throwing, children (N=64, aged 6 and 8 years; N=50, aged 5 and 6 years) and 15-year-olds (N=93, 46) showed the opposite preference, as did 17 adults. Seventeen-year-olds (N=82) were more likely to prefer to guess after throwing with live rather than imagined die-throwing. Reliance on imagined situations in the literature on decision-making under uncertainty ignores the possibility that adults imagine inaccurately how they would really feel: After a real die has been thrown, adults, like children, may feel there is less ambiguity about the outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-659
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


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