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Sticking with What (Barely) Worked

  • Lars Lefgren
  • Brennan Platt
  • Joseph Price

Outcome bias occurs when an evaluator considers ex-post outcomes when judging whether a choice was correct, ex-ante. We formalize this cognitive bias in a simple model of distorted Bayesian updating. We then examine strategy changes made by professional football coaches. We find they are more likely to revise their strategy after a loss than a win -- even for narrow losses, which are uninformative about future success. This increased revision following a loss occurs even when a loss was expected, and the offensive strategy is revised even when failure is attributable to the defense. These results are consistent with our model's predictions.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17477.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17477.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17477
Note: LS
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  1. David Card & Gordon Dahl, 2009. "Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior," NBER Working Papers 15497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Earl, Peter E, 1990. "Economics and Psychology: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 718-55, September.
  3. Dobbs, Ian M, 1991. "A Bayesian Approach to Decision-Making under Ambiguity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(232), pages 417-40, November.
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