Election predictions: The favorite-long shot bias …

Punch line: For some folks who predicted a Romney win over Obama, it  was simply heart over head.

For others, it may have been the favorite-long shot bias

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In gambling and economics, there’s an observed phenomenon favorite-long shot bias.


On average, bettors tend to overvalue “long shots” and undervalue favorites.

That is, in a horse race where one horse is given odds of 2-to-1, and another 100-to-1, the true odds might for example be 1.5-to-1 and 300-to-1 respectively.

Betting on the “long shot” is therefore a much worse proposition than betting on the favorite.

Various theories exist to explain why people willingly bet on such losing propositions, such as risk-loving behavior, or simply inaccurate estimation.


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