The Effects Of Optimism Bias In Sports Betting

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The driving force of sports betting is making money. Every sports bettor wants to showcase their knowledge and add a level of excitement to the games. However, the bottom line remains the allure of the potential profits, which drives the billion-dollar business on an annual basis. People think they can win – regardless of the odds – and that drives them.

A big factor in play here is the optimism bias. If you haven't heard of it before, here is a look at the effects of optimism bias in sports betting.

What Is Optimism Bias?

Optimism bias is the tendency to think that we are less at risk of experiencing something negative than others. It exists in all aspects of life when human beings think that they can’t be the subject of a negative experience the way that other people can be.

Meanwhile when it comes to positive events, the human brain tends to exaggerate the potential for a low probability event to occur in their favor.

The lottery is the perfect example of this since millions of players spend billions of dollars on an annual basis. They do so for the chance to win a big prize even though they are very unlikely to actually win. Even though players know the risks and know the odds, they still think they'll be the one.

Surprise, Surprise: Public Is Drawn To Bigger Wins

Studies have shown that the human brain struggles to deal with small odds. They aren’t nearly as concerned when it comes to winning a smaller prize as they would be with the allure of winning a big prize, even if they had a better chance to win the smaller price. The odds for winning the lottery could be as slim as one in 14 million. Even so, many people make a point to get their ticket on a weekly basis. In fact, if somebody were to spend $1000 on a lottery ticket for $1 a ticket every weekend for 270 years, they would on average be expected to win one jackpot.

That number can be reduced to account for the lifespan of a human being. It is telling how much money people can save just by not playing the lottery.

How Does Optimism Bias Impact Sports Betting?

The problem with sports betting strategy is that the optimism bias is enhanced by factors that are perceived to have a greater impact than they actually do.

For example, the average professional sports game will be broken down with home advantage, star players, split stats and recent trends factored into the prediction. People will factor those for the outcome rather than simply accepting it could be a random.

If a player wins his bet based on a certain criteria, it will reinforce the idea that they won based on their knowledge. Therefore, they believe they have a greater chance to win future bets based on that same type of knowledge.

There is also an issue with the idea of the “near miss”. The brain often perceives a near miss in sports betting as an indicator of a greater chance for future success. In reality, it might mean nothing at all.

We're Easily Fooled

The human brain can actually be fooled in to believing that the chances of winning are greater than they are based on irrelevant criteria. The optimism bias is an important theory to understand in order to avoid falling in to such traps. That's especially the case when it comes to wager on sports at the best betting sites.