Why are people unwilling to exchange lottery tickets?
Here is a paper which analyzes an example of the availability heuristic. “Availability is a cognitive heuristic in which a decision maker relies upon knowledge that is readily available rather than examine other alternatives or procedures” (Behavioural Finance). In other words, our understanding of frequency, probability, and causality relies on how easily information is recalled from memory.
Article Introduction (Via Mindhacks.com)
I’ve just found this wonderful study that investigated why people are reluctant to exchange lottery tickets before the draw – when each is equally as likely to win the jackpot. It seems that swapping the ticket sparks images of it winning the lottery. This tends to make us think it’s more likely to occur because the possibility becomes more vivid and hence holds more weight in our minds when we’re trying to judge likelihood – a cognitive bias known as the availability heuristic.
Abstract: People are reluctant to exchange lottery tickets, a result that previous investigators have attributed to anticipated regret. The authors suggest that people’s subjective likelihood judgments also make them disinclined to switch. Four studies examined likelihood judgments with respect to exchanged and retained lottery tickets and found that (a) exchanged tickets are judged more likely to win a lottery than are retained tickets and (b) exchanged tickets are judged more likely to win the more aversive it would be if the ticket did win. The authors provide evidence that this effect occurs because the act of imagining an exchanged ticket winning the lottery increases the belief that such an event is likely to occur.