Hot-Hand Fallacy

The “hot-hand” fallacy (also known as the hot-hand phenomenon) is a belief that someone who has success with a seemingly random event will continue to have future success at the same endeavor because of their previous success.

This term was coined from the frequently held belief in basketball that a person who makes a shot will be more likely to make shots afterwards – they have “hot hands.” For instance, a person playing basketball makes a successful shot. It is frequently assumed that one “lucky” shot leads to many more good shots and they are more likely to make a shot if they made the shot previous to it. Several proposed causes of this fallacy it the tendency to look to patterns or ‘streaks’ and the underestimation of streaks in chance situations.

For instance, if you toss a coin 10 times in a row there is a fair likelihood that you will have a few of the same side consecutively – we expect chance things to alternate more than they do.