daily fantasy sports articles
Understanding 'Action Bias' in DFS
Action Bias is what we are deconstructing in our latest DFS Mindset article. Simply, Action Bias is the tendency to take action over inaction.
The Action Bias, like previous biases, can be found in our caveman’s decision-making process. In cavemen time, action would always precede reflection. If a caveman waited to see how an outcome would unfold (rustle in the bushes), it may be too late (tiger in the bushes). However, in DFS we have the online bonuses of additional time to think through situations, and don’t need to make hastily and uninformed decisions.
This bias, while important for all aspects of DFS, lends it hand to cash games, where risk tolerances are narrowed and clear expectations essential.
ACTION BIAS = the tendency to think that value can only be realized through action
We can gain an impulse to act, in order to feel in control of a situation. Action Bias is prevalent during uncertain and uncomfortable situations, making us feel inclined to take action. As such, we want to look for the quickest action possible, to elevate the problem of uncertainty.
An example of the Action Bias is with soccer goal keepers during penalty kick situations. They will tend to dive either left or right (taking action) over remaining in the middle of the goals (inaction). However, research has shown kick takers will target the middle of the goals one-third of the time and it would be statistically better for the goalkeeper to remain inactive and remain in the centre.
This example highlights how the Action Bias can influence our decisions, enticing us to take action over inaction in order to feel in control of the situation. In DFS, Action Bias can be identified during player selection, in situations where we may feel uncertain about a player (due to injury, role change, poor form), we can impulsively make snap decisions to elevate the uncertainty we feel. This can be counterproductive as we prevent ourselves from investigating further, which takes patience and restraint.
Furthermore, Action Bias can influence our decision when we experience a negative outcome, as we perceive inaction as a failure to improve upon our past actions. This is all-too-common in DFS, as we see ourselves on a constant pendulum of selection; missing players when they break a slate open and then the following week selecting them as they lose the slate. We look to rectify it in the future by taking action, instead of patiently assessing the situation.
Example: Have selected Jack Ziebell the past three weeks (avg 67)
In this example we may now feel an impulse to automatically fade Jack Ziebell, in an attempt to improve upon our past three weeks. However, without proper reflection of how we came to those decisions previously, we have missed the opportunity to isolate whether the decision was correct or not and if so, how the outcome unfolded.
Approaches to avoid Action Bias
To avoid Action Bias, we can implement three tools (below);
- Be Informed – not a Speculator
- Informed = uses patience and analysis to unpack uncertainty
- Speculator = makes snap decisions to deal with uncertainty
- If the situation is unclear, stop and wait for additional information.
- Avoid hyperactivity when faced with uncertainty
- It decreases clarity and opens us up to Information bias (overload)
How to utilize Action Bias
Reflection on past performance can boost learning and confidence in skills. This is the key to first countering Action Bias and then utilizing it to our advantage. While we are inclined to elect practicing an action over reflection on past performance, this can see us miss critical selection mistakes that could help us improve.
In order to reflect, we need to first record. When making a decision on player selection, we can record:
- Possible choices available
- The choice we made
- Why we made the choice
- Including contextual factors
We can then return to this after the contest, and compare our decisions with the outcome, providing insight into our decision-making process.
Example: Jack Steele vs Richmond
Select or Fade
Reason for choice
Great tackle floor
Only position is midfield
Richmond don’t tag
Scored 66 from (11dispoals and 8 tackles)
While tackle floor is high, Steele was limited by disposal count
First game back from injury
Role at stoppages = negate opposition + block for teammates
In this example, we can take away that while we were correct in Steele’s prominent midfield role and tackle floor, we didn’t get the news that it was unfortunately a defensively-based role that saw him play the selfless team game (not what we want for DFS). We can use utilize reflection like this to continually iterate our understanding and knowledge of players, with no wagering required, to provide better insight into player performances and improve our DFS processes.
Action Bias has shown that we prefer action over inaction, but we need to ensure we are acting with an informed background. While uncertainty can cause us to make hastily decisions to quickly resolve the problem. We need to be patient, reflect on previous performance and remove emotionally driven decisions to gain a well-informed understanding of the situation (unless you want to take the Harry McKay rollercoaster).
Click on the links below to see more of Kansas' cognitive bias articles.