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The hot hand and the cold hand in professional golf


  • Livingston, Jeffrey A.


Previous studies have shown that people believe in the existence of the “hot hand” effect: recent good performances make one more confident and lead to more good performances. However, economists have found little evidence that such an effect is present. Motivated by models of momentum from psychology, this study examines hole-by-hole performances of four types of professional golfers, which is perhaps the ideal environment to evaluate whether such an effect exists. The results show that evidence consistent with the existence of hot hand and cold hand can be masked by looking only at overall mean impacts because the existence and magnitude of the effects can vary with the player's experience.

Suggested Citation

  • Livingston, Jeffrey A., 2012. "The hot hand and the cold hand in professional golf," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 172-184.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:1:p:172-184
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.10.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Matthew Rabin & Dimitri Vayanos, 2010. "The Gambler's and Hot-Hand Fallacies: Theory and Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 730-778.
    2. Abrevaya, Jason, 2002. "Ladder tournaments and underdogs: lessons from professional bowling," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 87-101, January.
    3. Dohmen, Thomas J., 2008. "Do professionals choke under pressure?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 636-653, March.
    4. Brown, William O & Sauer, Raymond D, 1993. "Does the Basketball Market Believe in the Hot Hand? Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1377-1386, December.
    5. James Sundali & Rachel Croson, 2006. "Biases in casino betting: The hot hand and the gambler's fallacy," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 1-12, July.
    6. Cotton, Christopher & Price, Joseph, 2006. "The Hot Hand, Competitive Experience, and Performance Differences by Gender," MPRA Paper 1843, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Camerer, Colin F, 1989. "Does the Basketball Market Believe in the 'Hot Hand'?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1257-1261, December.
    8. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    9. Klaassen F. J G M & Magnus J. R., 2001. "Are Points in Tennis Independent and Identically Distributed? Evidence From a Dynamic Binary Panel Data Model," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 96, pages 500-509, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2015. "Game, set, and match: Do women and men perform differently in competitive situations?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 96-108.
    2. Kniffin, Kevin M. & Mihalek, Vince, 2014. "Within-series momentum in hockey: No returns for running up the score," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 400-402.
    3. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2015. "Gender Differences In Reaction To Psychological Pressure: Evidence From Tennis Players," Working Papers 201506, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    4. Alexander Ahammer & Mario Lackner & Jasmin Voigt, 2017. "Does Confidence Enhance Performance? Causal Evidence from Professional Biathlon," Economics working papers 2017-18, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    5. Christopher Cotton & Frank McIntyre & Joseph Price, 2016. "Correcting for bias in hot hand analysis: Analyzing performance streaks in youth golf," Working Papers 1366, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    6. Rosenqvist, Olof & Skans, Oskar Nordström, 2015. "Confidence enhanced performance? – The causal effects of success on future performance in professional golf tournaments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 281-295.

    More about this item


    Hot hand effect; Golf; Law of small numbers; Decision making;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations


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