Can You Behave Randomly?
"The generation of random numbers is too important
to be left to chance."
..Robert R. Coveyou, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
The goal of the exercise is to deepen your understanding of what
randomness is by having you try to behave randomly. Whether humans can
behave randomly is important to psychology (as well as to the gaming industry!). Most psychological theories would argue that it would be extremely difficult
for people to behave randomly (more about this later). There are three
levels to this exercise, each subsuming an earlier level. Start with level
1 and work up either to the level your instructor wants you to do or until
you can't stand it! Working the entire exercise will take you about 1.5 hours.
The Lay of the Land (Exercise Index):
- Introduction: What is randomness and why you should care about it
- a failure of randomness: the 1969 draft lottery
- levels 2 and 3: definition problems, chaos, and beating the lottery
- Imagine random outcomes: can you do it?
- Four tests for randomness and a self-quiz for understanding the tests
- levels 2 and 3: Deviating significantly from chance
- level 3: determining autocorrelation or serial dependency
- Interpreting your results and viewing them in a summary table
- The gambler's and hot hand fallacies, plus some misconceptions about probability
- Applications and implications of failing to understand randomness
- What does a "real" sequence of 100 coin flips look like?
- Comparing real and imagined coin flips to statistical standards
- level 3: Can we do better? Link to "real" random number generators
- Why is it so hard to understand the concept of randomness and to behave randomly?
- Assessing your learning:
- acting more randomly
- passing a quiz
- evaluating the exercise