Advertisement

Atlantic Economic Journal

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 261–274 | Cite as

Pressure and the ability to randomize decision-making: The case of the pickoff play in Major League Baseball

  • Jim Downey
  • Joseph McGarrityEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

In mixed strategy games, the ability to randomize decisions is a critical strategic necessity, yet studies show that such rational behavior is sometimes elusive. This paper examines mixed strategy play in a natural setting, by looking at a pitcher’s decision to throw the ball to home plate or to throw it to first base in a pickoff play. In the absence of significant pressure, we find that pitchers can effectively randomize their sequence of choices to remain unpredictable, as mixed strategy Nash equilibriums require. However, in the face of pressure, some pitchers are less able to randomize their choices. Our paper is the first empirical study in the English language literature to find that decision makers are unable to randomize their strategic decisions when they face an increased cognitive load due to pressure.

Keywords

Pressure Mixed strategy 

JEL

D91 Z2 

Notes

Supplementary material

11293_2019_9631_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 13 kb)

References

  1. Allred, S., Duffy, S., & Smith, J. (2016). Cognitive load and strategic sophistication. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 125(May), 162–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baddeley, A. (1976). The psychology of memory (pp. 162–187). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R., & Showers, C. (1986). A review of paradoxical performance effects: Chocking under pressure in sports and mental tests. European Journal of Social Psychology, 16(October / December), 361–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cappelletti, D., Guth, W., & Ploner, M. (2011). Being of two minds: Ultimatum offers under cognitive constraints. Journal of Economic Psychology, 32(6), 940–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carpenter, J., Graham, M., & Wolf, J. (2013). Cognitive ability and strategic sophistication. Games and Economic Behavior, 80(1), 115–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chiappori, P., Levitt, S., & Groseclose, T. (2002). Testing mixed strategy equilibria when players are heterogeneous: The case of penalty kicks in soccer. American Economic Review, 92(4), 1138–1151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Depken, C., Sonora, R., & Wilson, D. (2012). Performance under pressure: Preliminary evidence from the National Hockey League. International Journal of Sport Finance, 7, 213–231.Google Scholar
  8. Downey, J., & McGarrity, J. (2015). Pickoff throws, stolen bases, and southpaws: A comparative static analysis of a mixed strategy game. Atlantic Economic Journal, 43(3), 319–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duffy, S., & Smith, J. (2014). Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner’s dilemma game: Are there brains in games? Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 51(August), 47–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Emara, N., Owens, D., Smith, J., & Wilmer, L. (2017). Serial correlation in National Football League Play Calling and its effect on outcomes. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 69, 125–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eysenck, M., Derakshan, N., Santos, R., & Calvo, M. (2007). Anxiety and cognitive performance: Attentional control theory. Emotion, 7(2), 336–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Heckman, J. (1981). The incidental parameters problem and the problem of initial conditions in estimating a discrete time-discrete data stochastic process. In C. F. Manski & D. L. McFadden (Eds.), Structural analysis of discrete data and econometric applications (pp. 114–178). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hsu, S., Huang, C., & Tang, C. (2007). Minimax Play at Wimbledon: Comment. The American Economic Review, 97(1), 517–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kocher, M., & Sutter, M. (2006). Time is money-time pressure, incentives, and the quality of decision-making. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 61(3), 375–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kovash, K., & Levitt, S. (2009). Professionals Do Not Play Minimax: Evidence from Major League Baseball and the National Football League. NBER Working paper series, September, https://www.nber.org/papers/w15347.pdf. Last date Accessed: January 15, 2018.
  16. La Russa, T. (2012). One Last Strike (pp. 325–341). New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  17. Leder, J., Alexander, J., & Mojzisch, A. (2013). Stress and strategic decision-making in a beauty contest game. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9), 1503–1511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Levitt, S., & List, S. (2008). Homo economicus Evolves. Science, 319(5865), 909–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Masicampo, E., & Baumeister, R. (2008). Toward a physiology of duel-process reasoning and judgement. Psychological Science, 19(3), 255–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McGarrity, J., & Linnen, B. (2010). Pass or run: An empirical test of the matching pennies game using data from the National Football League. Southern Economic Journal, 76(3), 791–810.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Miranda, A. (2007). Dynamic probit models for panel data: A comparison of three methods of estimation. 2007 UK Stata users group meeting. https://www.stata.com/meeting/13uk/miranda_Dprob_pe.pdf. Last date Accessed: Febrary 9, 2018.
  22. Oskarsson, A., Van Boven, T., & McClelland, G. (2009). What’s next? Judging sequences of binary events. Psychology Bulletin, 135(2), 262–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Palacios-Huerta, I. (2003). Professionals play minimax. Review of Economic Studies, 70, 395–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Passerman, M. (2010). Gender differences in performance in competitive environments? Evidence from professional tennis players. NBER Working paper, https://conference.nber.org/conferences/2007/si2007/LS/paserman.pdf. Last date Accessed: Febrary 9, 2018.
  25. Porcelli, A., & Delgado, M. (2009). Acute stress modulates risk taking in financial decision-making. Psychological Science, 20(3), 278–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schoofs, D., & Wolf, O. (2009). Cold pressor stress impairs performance on working memory tasks requiring executive functions in health young men. Behavioral Neuroscience, 123(5), 1066–1075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Smith, D.. (2018). Game Logs. Retrosheet.org. (https://www.retrosheet.org/). Last date Accessed: August 20, 2019.
  28. Studenmund, A. (2011). Using econometrics. Boston: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  29. Sutter, M., Kocher, M., & Staub, S. (2003). Bargaining under time pressure in an experimental game. Economic Letters, 81(3), 341–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgement under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185(4157), 1124–1131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Walker, M., & Wooders, J. (2001). Minimax play at Wimbledon. American Economic Review, 91(5), 1521–1538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Atlantic Economic Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management Information SystemsUniversity of Central ArkansasConwayUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Central ArkansasConwayUSA

Personalised recommendations