I saw some random youtube video some time back that showed an experiment with normal adults coming up with funny rituals when they thought they had control over an outcome that researchers had actually set up to be random.

I'd like to find out more about this kind of experiment, but I don't know what it's called. I've tried "magical thinking", "illusion of control", "rain dance", "causation and ritual", and a number of other wild guesses, but to no avail.

Is it ok to ask for the technical name of this kind of experiment, or where I can find out more about it? I've looked through the rules for asking, but I don't see this explicitly allowed or disallowed.

Edit: in the meantime the question has been asked here on the main site

  • 1
    If you could link that YouTube video I don't see any reason why it would be offtopic
    – AliceD Mod
    May 4, 2018 at 19:55
  • Unfortunately, I can't find the video any more. I was hoping someone could tell me what that kind of experiment is so I could find the video again. May 4, 2018 at 19:56
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    Check. Then the issue is whether your memory is accurate yes or no, how much you can tell about when it was broadcasted, if it was a TED talk or something, etc etc. If the question becomes too vague it will likely be close voted.
    – AliceD Mod
    May 4, 2018 at 19:59
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    I think the question as posed is fine.
    – AliceD Mod
    May 5, 2018 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


Yes. I think that questions about the name of a type of experiment are fine. It's a scientific question. It's general; it's useful.

  • 1
    I would add that often in cases like this the main barrier to further self-driven study is knowing what search terms to use, and StackExchange is a great way to get that information: the answers tend to be concise and definitive.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    May 8, 2018 at 1:13

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