The Science of Momentum: Does a Win Today Predict a Win Tomorrow?

The Huffington Post:

If your favorite team or player wins on a given day — especially if it’s a landslide win, then it’s likely that “momentum” gets thrown around by people previewing the next event.

Winning in any activity often gets used to build confidence for the next contest. Along with sports commentators, “momentum” is frequently used by stock analysts talking to investors, politicians talking to supporters, and executives talking to employees and other stakeholders.

For better or worse, momentum is one of those concepts that’s sticky in our heads. We’re evolved to see patterns — like figuring out “who’s hot” and “who’s not” — partly to help us anticipate the future.

In a new study that’s set for publication in the March edition of Economics Letters that I completed with Vince Mihalek, we look at the questions of (1) whether momentum from winning one game influences the probability of winning the subsequent game and, more specifically, (2) whether the margin of victory — for teams winning a given game — influences the subsequent game’s outcome.

On the surface, we found a positive correlation between the margins of victory in the two-game sets that we studied and this is the kind of pattern that would lead people to conclude reasonably that momentum from one game to the next is important.

Read the whole story: The Huffington post

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