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Illusion Of Control: Definition, Examples and Effects

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Illusion of control is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their ability to control events or their outcomes. It is a phenomenon in which people believe that they have more control over a situation than they actually do. This can lead to a false sense of security and can have a negative impact on decision-making.


1. Gambling: A person might feel that they're more likely to win a lottery if they pick their own numbers, rather than having the machine do it randomly, even though the odds of winning remain the same. Similarly, in gambling, a person might throw a dice harder or softer with the mistaken belief that it will influence the outcome.

2. Investing: People may overestimate their ability to predict the stock market, believing that they can control the outcome of their investments.

3. Health: People may believe that they have more control over their health than they actually do, leading to a false sense of security.


1. Overconfidence: The illusion of control can lead to overconfidence, which can lead to poor decision-making.

2. Risk-taking: People may take more risks than they should because they overestimate their ability to control the outcome.

3. Stress: People may become stressed when they realize that they do not have as much control over a situation as they thought.

Do you want to expand your knowledge on this topic? Read our full in-depth article on cognitive biases.

Do you have extra 15 minutes today? Take our fun and interactive quiz to learn which of 16 reasoning styles you use, your overall level of rationality, and what you can do now to improve your rationality skills.


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