You Clever Rat

Have a good look at the picture below, can you see the pattern?  What is going to happen next?  Red or Green?  Left or Right?  Write down the answer (no cheating).

An experiment was carried out in the USA (See the link).  A rat was put at the foot of a T shaped maze and a piece of food was placed randomly on the left or right arm.  Not evenly though, the dice were rigged, there was a 60% chance it would be on the left and 40% on the right.

The rats soon twigged, after a handful of runs they always headed left.  They ended up with a 60% success rate

The same experiment was carried out with some Yale undergraduates.  They looked for patterns, they predicted outcomes.  They had a 52% success rate.  They were out-analysed by a bunch of rats.

The scientific explanation?  We look for patterns and believe we see them even when they aren’t there.  So next time your quality results jump or costs fall ask yourself is this a pattern?  Or random noise?

Did you go Red or Green?

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