Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Kevin Bennett (Committee Member), John Flach (Committee Chair), Valerie Shalin (Committee Member), Clark Shingledecker (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Classical perspectives on judgment and rationality view heuristics as erroneous, leading to suboptimal judgments. Conversely, ecological perspectives view heuristics as smart mechanisms that result in good judgments in the face of uncertainty. Our research focused on the hot hand heuristic and examined it using non-linear analysis methods. This research attempted to answer two questions. The first question concerned the applicability of frequency analysis methods for detecting constraints (such as the hot hand) or structure in a time series of binary data, which we attempted to investigate through Monte Carlo simulations. We found that this method was sensitive enough to detect structure. The second question was concerned with whether humans are able to discriminate random series from constrained (structured) series. We conducted an experiment which investigated whether time series validated by the frequency analysis as constrained were detectable by humans. Our results showed that humans have an ability to recognize a constrained series more often than chance. A link between the strength of constraints in the spectral analysis with performance in discrimination of the task was demonstrated, suggesting that the higher the strength of constraint (according to the spectral plots) the easier it is to discriminate. The spectral plots might hold validity to index the psychophysics of pattern detection in humans. Our results gives credence to the ecological justification for the use of heuristics (such as the belief in the hot hand), especially in a skilled situation, such as sports performance.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded