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It’s comforting to feel we’re in control. But are we?

When we play Monopoly, it doesn’t matter whether we roll the dice or let somebody roll for us—and yet we sense that we’ll fare better if we do it ourselves. Want a high number, so we leap past the hotels that another player has built on Boardwalk and Park Place? We’ll shake the dice extra hard.

Similarly, on many “one-arm bandit” slot machines, we can choose to either push a button or pull a lever. We figure we’re more likely to get three cherries in a row if we make the extra effort, so we reach for the lever. Buying a lottery ticket? We reckon our odds of winning are higher if we use our lucky numbers, rather than relying on random numbers generated by the ticket machine.

Welcome to the illusion of control, the tendency for folks to believe they have more control over events tha