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If you make the test more sensitive—by increasing the size of the studied population, for example—you enable yourself see ever-smaller effects. That's the power of the method, but also its danger.

The truth is, the null hypothesis is probably always false! When you drop a powerful drug into a patient's bloodstream, it's hard to believe the intervention literally has zero effect on the probability that the patient will develop esophageal cancer, or thrombosis, or bad breath. Each part of the body speaks to every other, in a complex feedback loop of influence and control.

Everything you do either gives you cancer or prevents it. And in principle, if you carry out a powerful enough study, you can find out which it is. But those effects are usually so minuscule that they can be safely ignored. Just because we can detect them doesn't always mean they matter.

On the other side: If the test is less sensitive, it will declare the results of the experiment insignificant, whether or not there's really an effect. If you look at Mars with a research-grade telescope, you'll see moons; if you look with binoculars, you won't. But the moons are still there! And it's this problem that makes it so hard to pin down the hot hand. GVT had answered only half the question: Namely, what if the null hypothesis were true, and there was no hot hand? Then, they say, the results would look very much like the ones observed in the real data.

But what if the null hypothesis is wrong? The hot hand, if it exists, is brief, and the effect, in strictly numerical terms, is small. The worst shooter in the league hits 40 percent of his shots and the best hits 60 percent; that's a big difference in basketball terms, but not so big statistically.

What would the shot sequences look like, if the hot hand were real? Computer scientists Kevin Korb and Michael Stillwell worked out exactly that in a paper. They generated simulations where a player's shooting percentage leaped up to 90 percent for two shot "hot hand" intervals over the course of the trial, and ran these simulations more than a hundred times.

In more than three-quarters of the trials, the significance test used by GVT reported that there was no reason to reject the null hypothesis— even though the null hypothesis was completely false. Their design was underpowered, destined to report the nonexistence of the hot hand whether or not the hot hand was real. If you don't like simulations, consider reality. Not all teams are equal when it comes to preventing shots; last year, the stingy Indiana Pacers allowed opponents to make only 42 percent of their shots, while So players really do have "hot spells"—namely, they're more likely to hit a shot when they're playing the Cavs.

But this mild heat—maybe we should call it "the warm hand"—is something the tests used by Gilovich, Vallone, and Tversky aren't sensitive enough to feel. The right question isn't, "Do basketball players sometimes temporarily get better or worse at making shots? The right question is "How much does their ability vary with time, and to what extent can observers detect in real time whether a player is hot? A paper released just this February , does appear to find a small, measurable effect.

The short life of the hot hand, which makes it so hard to disprove, makes it just as hard to reliably detect. Gilovich, Vallone, and Tversky are absolutely correct in their central contention that human beings are quick to detect patterns where they don't exist and to overestimate their strength where they do.

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Any regular hoops-watcher will routinely see one player or another sink five shots in a row. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.

The Hot Hand: A New Approach to an Old “Fallacy”

Econometrica Volume 86, Issue 6. Joshua B. Miller E-mail address: joshua. Adam Sanjurjo E-mail address: sanjurjo ua. Wiener, Nat Wilcox, and Bart Wilson.

Jeffrey Zwiebel: Why the “Hot Hand” May Be Real After All | Stanford Graduate School of Business

We would also like to thank seminar participants at Caltech, City U. London, Chapman U. New South Wales, U. Southern California, U. All mistakes and omissions remain our own. Search for more papers by this author. Read the full text. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. They found that there was a significant increase in players' probabilities of hitting the second shot in a two-shot series compared to the first one. They also found that in a set of two consecutive shots, the probability of hitting the second shot is greater following a hit than following a miss on the previous one.

In November , researchers at Stanford University used data from Major League Baseball and found that there was "strong evidence" that the hot hand existed in ten different statistical categories. In , a paper from three Harvard graduates presented at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which used advanced statistics that for the first time could control for variables in basketball games such as the player's shot location and a defender's position, showed a "small yet significant hot-hand effect.

In , an examination of the study by Joshua Miller and Adam Sanjurjo found flaws in the methodology of the study and showed that, in fact, the hot hands may exist. The researchers said that instead it may be attributable to a misapplication of statistical techniques. There are places other than sport that can be affected by the hot-hand fallacy.

A study conducted by Joseph Johnson et al. Both of these occur when a consumer misunderstands random events in the market and is influenced by a belief that a small sample is able to represent the underlying process. Hypothesis one stated that consumers that were given stocks with positive and negative trends in earning would be more likely to buy a stock that was positive when it was first getting started but would become less likely to do so as the trend lengthened.

Hypothesis two was that consumers would be more likely to sell a stock with negative earnings as the trend length initially increased but would decrease as the trend length increased more. Finally, the third hypothesis was that consumers in the buy condition would be more likely to choose a winning stock over those in the selling condition.

The results of the experiment did not support the first hypothesis but did support hypotheses two and three, suggesting that the use of these heuristics is dependent on buying or selling and the length of the sequence.

Hot Hand Eggsperience

The opposite would be in accordance with the gambler's fallacy which has more of an influence on longer sequences of numerical information. A study was conducted to examine the difference between the hot-hand and gambler's fallacy.

Momentum Isn’t Magic—Vindicating the Hot Hand with the Mathematics of Streaks

The gambler's fallacy is the expectation of a reversal following a run of one outcome. It is caused by the false belief that the random numbers of a small sample will balance out the way they do in large samples; this is known as the law of small numbers heuristic. The difference between this and the hot-hand fallacy is that with the hot-hand fallacy an individual expects a run to continue. This relates to a person's perceived ability to predict random events, which is not possible for truly random events. The fact that people believe that they have this ability is in line with the illusion of control.

In this study, the researchers wanted to test if they could manipulate a coin toss , and counter the gambler's fallacy by having the participant focus on the person tossing the coin. In contrast, they attempted to initiate the hot-hand fallacy by centering the participant's focus on the person tossing the coin as a reason for the streak of either heads or tails.

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  6. In either case the data should fall in line with sympathetic magic , whereby they feel that they can control the outcomes of random events in ways that defy the laws of physics , such as being "hot" at tossing a specific randomly determined outcome. They tested this concept under three different conditions. The first was person focused, where the person who tossed the coin mentioned that she was tossing a lot of heads or tails.

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    Second was a coin focus, where the person who tossed the coin mentioned that the coin was coming up with a lot of heads or tails. Finally there was a control condition in which there was nothing said by the person tossing the coin. The researchers found the results of this study to match their initial hypothesis that the gambler's fallacy could in fact be countered by the use of the hot hand and people's attention to the person who was actively flipping the coin. It is important to note that this counteraction of the gambler's fallacy only happened if the person tossing the coin remained the same.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For pinball game, see Hot Hand pinball.