Illusory control as a function of motivation for a specific outcome in a chance-based situation

Paul M. Biner, Michelle L. Huffman, Melissa A. Curran, Kelley R. Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Previous research has provided evidence that an individual's need for a chance-based outcome positively affects perceptions of the skill involved in attaining the outcome as well as certainty of winning. Two experiments were conducted to test several competing alternative interpretations for this effect. In Experiment 1, food-satiated (low-need) and food-deprived (high-need) subjects were given the opportunity to win a food incentive in a chance-based card-drawing game either in the presence or absence of situational cues previously shown to induce skill orientations. Skill and confidence-in-winning ratings were found to be positive function of outcome need regardless of the cues condition, thus not supporting an attentional or vigilance interpretation of the general effect. In Experiment 2, food-satiated and food-deprived subjects faced a similar card-drawing game, but this time were given the opportunity to choose whether or not they wanted to be personally involved in various facets of the game (e.g., shuffling the cards). As predicted, high-need subjects showed a greater propensity to want to be personally involved in playing the game, a finding offering support for a "control" interpretation. Overall results are discussed in terms of control theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-291
Number of pages15
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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