What is Halo Effect Bias ? How Does it Affect your Betting?
Sports betting is one of the fastest-growing industries globally. It offers a unique experience to sports enthusiasts or gamblers looking for a thrill with the chance to test one’s wits against the so-called experts of the field.
There are different aspects and endeavors within sports betting, including types of bets, markets, live and futures bets, and many more. Gamblers also follow different strategies and approaches to maximize their sportsbooks experience and incur greater profits.
Most successful gamblers follow a specific formula that works the best for them, whether this is by only betting first-half unders, underdog spreads, player props, or anything else in-between. However, one mistake that many new and experienced bettors are prone to make is falling victim to the Halo Effect.
What does that mean?
What is Halo Effect bias, you might ask? To properly understand that, we must first discuss the mindset of sports bettors.
A gambler’s job is to examine and evaluate trends, statistics, theories, habits, external factors, and miscellaneous information to determine the best bet on a sportsbook’s betting sheet. Keep in mind that successful gamblers are likely informed about tons of sports, teams, athletes, and events, so this process is not as simple as picking an interesting game and going all-in on the first bet that pops to mind.
Because sports betting is all about beating the numbers, gamblers often consult different sheets of statistical information that describe each team or athlete’s tendencies within certain bets. The most basic example of this would be a team against the spread.
The Halo Effect in action
For example, let’s say that the Chicago Bulls are 34-19 against the spread. This would be quite a stellar record for spread betting, which is inherently designed to split results 50/50. As a result, an interested bettor might see this and assume that the Bulls will likely win them some money the next time they play.
The Halo Effect clouds judgment based on belief, whether that be from confirmation bias or some other attribute. In our scenario, no information was given about how the Bulls are playing lately. Maybe their best player recently got injured, or perhaps they are just in a terrible downswing and have failed to cover the spread ten games in a row. The Halo Effect got rid of outside worry and led bettors to believe the Bulls’ spread was the best thing since sliced bread.
Returning to the basic question of “What is Halo Effect bias,” Halo Effect bias is most noticeable when it applies to individuals. Specifically, it appears when judgment is formed based on personal experiences and observations, just the same way that everyone perceives the world differently through the lens of their understanding.
Okay, let’s dial back the worldly view. The Halo Effect creeps up on bettors who are, first and foremost, active in the market and, secondly, venture out and bet on different teams, players, or athletes. If you bet on the same team, player, or athlete every time, this likely does not apply to you, although your strategy could probably do with a revamp.
The Halo Effect applies to individuals who let personal successes and sorrows overrule logic when placing bets. For example, one bettor might have a lower success rate with the Detroit Lions, but because they chased the biggest bet of their life with this team, they will continue to bet on them, waiting for their next life-changing payout to hit.
Similarly, a bettor who bet on the Lions for the first time and won might expect them to continue to win most times they play, regardless of odds, opponent, circumstance, or any other factor. This is more of a problem for fans of the sport that like to casually bet and do not stay informed on recent trends or bettors who are active in the market but are not closely paying attention to events.
Infiltrations of the Halo Effect
The Halo Effect does not only manifest itself consciously with relatable experiences; it can happen through plenty of other mediums.
One of the most powerful weapons in the world right now is the media — most companies will claim to use the media for good, although this is not always the case.
Narratives also drive the media, which opens the door to personal agendas being used to drive the news instead of facts and reality. Unfortunately for purists, one section of the media that is exceptionally prone to pushing personal agendas and ignoring ongoing events is sports media. Call this the “debate show effect,” where every personality is forced to possess some affinity for a particular player or team and detest another player or team.
Sports media figures will often go on their shows and spew rhetoric about different athletes or organizations that misinform the listeners and lead them to incorrect conclusions. In essence, this tunnel of inaccurate statements can persuade listeners to favor a particular outcome because they like a specific personality, even ignoring a missed prediction because of their affection for the person that misled them.
Other biases at play
Yet another answer to the question of Halo Effect bias is visibility; more specifically, visibility in what the bettor sees.
Let’s say an NBA player averages 8.4 points per game, but in a game that happens to be broadcast on your local station or transmitted through a stream you happen to catch, that player scores 35 points. Suddenly, that bettor’s perception of that player will rise, and they will begin to think about that player’s potential instead of their usual level of performance.
Similarly, pretend a usual role player on a team hit the game-winning shot for a team you bet on. Your evaluation of that player might shift because of their clutch shot. Perhaps you will start to view them as “dependable” or “trustworthy” and think of them and their team more in your future bets.
How to avoid the Halo Effect
Avoiding Halo Effect bias is relatively simple but still hard to abide by at times. First, only bet on teams, players, or events you are familiar with. Having in-depth knowledge of what is going on will allow you to circumvent narratives and exposure bias when placing bets.
In addition, diversify your bets to have experience with different players and teams. And do not pigeonhole yourself into only relying on a select group of players or teams to carry your bets. It is okay to have favorites, but it is not okay to expect them to deliver every single time.
Moreover, you can help avoid the halo effect by simply taking brief breaks from betting every once in a while to refresh your mind. Perhaps the next NFL Sunday will be your week off of gambling, and then you can come back with a clean slate the following weekend. Want to learn more about Halo Effect Bias in Betting? Follow us on Twitter
What is halo effect bias FAQs
The Halo Effect most frequently shows up when bettors place wagers on their favorite teams or athletes. As a rule of thumb, it is a great idea to avoid betting on entities that you, as an individual, support unless you have demonstrated an ability to override personal bias and affinity for them. This can be especially helpful to new bettors who think they have to only bet on their favorite team or athlete since that is what they know, even though they are unknowingly leading themselves down a slippery slope.
Humans are imperfect beings, and there is no way to avoid bias altogether. However, understanding the information above and relying on your utilization of information, trends, stats, and understanding of outcomes can help you minimize the impact of the Halo Effect.
If you talk to an expert on investment, they will tell you the key to succeeding is diversifying your assets. There is a similar model in sports betting. While you should stick with a method of betting (live, prop, spread, etc.) that works for you, you never want to rely on a team or player to carry your wagers. Start with low-value risks and become more comfortable with the “different” and, once you have gained more experience, start to increase your investment.
Lots of bettors are impulsive, and while some traits have their ups and downs, this is usually a negative quality. A great way to tell if you are falling victim to the Halo Effect or other factors leading to a poor decision is to map out your bets, take a few hours or days off, then revisit them and evaluate their likelihood of succeeding. Night owls could consider looking at odds as they are released, going to sleep, and re-checking in the morning, whereas others can plan out weekend bets on Monday before checking back in on Friday.
Although watching and evaluating the action helps bettors, specifically when analyzing future matchups, it is not a necessity. Bettors who do not have the time to check out all of the action they are betting on should, however, due their due diligence and properly digest the statistics, significant events, outside factors, and developing trends before plunging again and risking money. Knowledge is power in the sports betting world, so stay as informed as possible.
Halo Effect bias is the tendency for personal experience to dictate how bettors view teams or athletes. It is an ever-present danger that must be properly understood before its impact can be minimized.
Bettors can follow a variety of steps to help avoid the effects of this form of bias, which can manifest in many ways. Stay informed and aware of your decisions as a bettor to put yourself in the best possible place to succeed.