Forecasting from ignorance. the use and usefulness of recognition in lay predictions of sports events


Whereas previous studies on how people make forecasts of sports events focused primarily on experts, we examined how laypeople do this task. In particular, we (a) tested the recognition heuristic [Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. (2002). Models of ecological rationality. the recognition heuristic. Psychological Review, 109, 75-90], which requires partial ignorance, against four alternative mechanisms in describing laypeople’s forecasts for the European Soccer Championships 2004; (b) evaluated how well recognition predicted the outcomes of the matches compared to direct indicators of team strength (e.g., past performance, rankings); and (c) studied the less-is-more effect–the phenomenon that knowing less leads to more correct forecasts than knowing more–which can occur when the recognition heuristic is used. Two groups of participants (laypeople, experts) made forecasts for the first-round matches of the tournament. Of the five candidate mechanisms, the recognition heuristic predicted laypeople’s forecasts best. when applicable, it accounted for 90% of the forecasts. The recognition heuristic correctly predicted the actual winner of the matches substantially better than chance but did not achieve the accuracy of direct indicators of team strength. The experts made more correct forecasts than the laypeople. Moreover, we found no benefit of ignorance among the group of laypeople, although the conditions for a less-is-more effect specified by Goldstein and Gigerenzer were fulfilled.

Acta psychologica (125)
Guido Biele
Guido Biele

My research interests include statistical and cognitive modeling around ADHD.