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Rekenthaler Report

The 'Hot Hand' Finding, Revisited

Did basketball fans see what the researchers missed?

The Big Splash
Among the most influential behavioral-science papers is "The Hot Hand in Basketball: On the Misperception of Random Sequences," by Thomas Gilovich, assisted by Robert Vallone and Amos Tversky. Published in 1985, the article quickly became required reading. (It was for my MBA management class.) According to a recent missive from PIMCO, Hot Hand has received more than 1,200 academic citations.

The paper showed that, although basketball fans widely believed that players who had made their previous shots--who had the "hot hand"--were likelier to make the next shot that they attempted, such was not the case. The fans were wrong. They saw what they thought they would see, rather than what actually occurred.