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Individual Performance after Success and Failure - A Natural Experiment


  • Christoph Bühren

    () (University of Kassel)

  • Stefan Krabel

    () (VDI/VDE Innovation+Technik GmbH)


The main goal of our study is to analyze how success and failure in crucial situations affect subsequent individual performance. Our study is based on evidence from a natural experiment of NBA (National Basketball Association) players: Based on play-by-play statistics of NBA games in 10 seasons (1818 observations of 345 sportsmen), we identify players who are responsible for the overtime by taking the last shot of the game. Players who miss the shot when the game is tied perform better in overtime than in the last quarter (within-subject comparison) but not significantly different to their game and season averages. Players who score the equalizer in the last shot of the regular game perform substantially worse in overtime compared to their 4th quarter performance as well as compared to their game and season averages. Yet the average performances in overtime of both groups do not differ significantly (between-subject comparison). We conclude that success in crucial situations leads to lower subsequent individual performance. Psychological explanations for this phenomenon, e.g. the role of overconfidence, are discussed. We argue that our findings can be transferred to behavior after success or failure in business settings since we have distinct identifications of performance and responsibility: the observed overtimes are clear and immediate outcomes of the last shots of our analyzed players; without their success or failure, the game would have been over after regular time.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Bühren & Stefan Krabel, 2015. "Individual Performance after Success and Failure - A Natural Experiment," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201505, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  • Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:201505

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Menkhoff, Lukas & Schmeling, Maik & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2013. "Overconfidence, experience, and professionalism: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 92-101.
    2. Jones Marshall B, 2007. "Home Advantage in the NBA as a Game-Long Process," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 3(4), pages 1-16, October.
    3. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.),Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    4. David J. Berri & Anthony C. Krautmann, 2006. "Shirking on the Court: Testing for the Incentive Effects of Guaranteed Pay," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 536-546, July.
    5. Jose Apesteguia & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2010. "Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2548-2564, December.
    6. Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2012. "An unlucky feeling: Overconfidence and noisy feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 510-524.
    7. Christian Grund & Jan Höcker & Stefan Zimmermann, 2013. "Incidence And Consequences Of Risk-Taking Behavior In Tournaments—Evidence From The Nba," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1489-1501, April.
    8. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2007. "Playing For Keeps: Pay And Performance In The Nba," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(1), pages 145-161, January.
    9. Alberto Abadie & David Drukker & Jane Leber Herr & Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Implementing matching estimators for average treatment effects in Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 290-311, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert M. Lantis & Erik T. Nesson, 2019. "Hot Shots: An Analysis of the ‘Hot Hand’ in NBA Field Goal and Free Throw Shooting," NBER Working Papers 26510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Christoph Bühren & Philip J. Steinberg, 2017. "The impact of psychological traits on performance in sequential tournaments: Evidence from a tennis field experiment," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201705, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

    More about this item


    success; failure; performance; psychological pressure; overconfidence; hot hand fallacy; natural experiment; basketball; NBA;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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