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A Cold Shower for the Hot Hand Fallacy

IGIER Working Paper No. 518

70 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2014 Last revised: 7 Jul 2015

Joshua Benjamin Miller

Bocconi University - Department of Decision Sciences; IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Adam Sanjurjo

Universidad de Alicante - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico

Date Written: December 15, 2014

Abstract

The hot hand fallacy has long been considered a massive and widespread cognitive illusion with important economic consequences. While the canonical domain of the fallacy is basketball, which continues to provide its strongest and most readily generalizable supporting evidence, the fallacy has been considered as a candidate explanation for various economic and financial anomalies. We find, in its canonical domain, that the belief in the hot hand is not a fallacy, and that, surprisingly, the original evidence supports this conclusion. Our approach is to design a controlled shooting field experiment and develop statistical measures that together have superior identifying power over previous studies. We find substantial evidence of the hot hand, both in our study and in all extant controlled shooting studies, including the seminal study (which found the opposite result, and coined the term "the hot hand fallacy''). Also, we observe the hot hand effect to be heterogeneous across shooters, which suggests that decision makers (e.g. players and coaches) may have incentive to identify which shooters have a greater tendency to become hot. Accordingly, we find evidence that expert players (teammates) can do so. In light of these results, we reconsider the economic relevance of the hot hand fallacy more generally.

Keywords: Hot Hand Fallacy, Hot Hand Effect

JEL Classification: C12, C14, C93, D03

Suggested Citation

Miller, Joshua Benjamin and Sanjurjo, Adam, A Cold Shower for the Hot Hand Fallacy (December 15, 2014). IGIER Working Paper No. 518. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2450479 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2450479

Joshua Benjarmin Miller (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Decision Sciences ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://didattica.unibocconi.eu/mypage/index.php?IdUte=111643&lingua=eng

IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://didattica.unibocconi.eu/myigier/index.php?IdUte=111643

Adam Sanjurjo

Universidad de Alicante - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico ( email )

Campus de San Vicente
Alicante, 03690
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/adamangelsanjurjo/

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