While a winning momentum seems to be the quest for any person wanting to go the distance, be it sports or the stock market, a new study reveals that a multi-game winning streak has nothing to do with momentum.
By examining varsity college hockey teams winning and losing record, Cornell University researchers discovered that momentum advantages don't exist.
"Whether it's sports commentators or stock analysts who are talking, momentum is routinely assumed to be important on a day-to-day basis. In our evidence, we see that momentum is really just illusory," Kevin M. Kniffin, a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, said.
Kniffin and Vince Mihalek, a four-year veteran of Cornell's men's ice hockey team, examined 916 games over a six-year period from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (NCAA, Division 1).
Teams in that league regularly play two-game weekend series, which the researchers explain "presents a uniquely ripe environment for momentum to potentially occur."
The study showed that winning the first game of a two-game series does not affect the probability of winning the second. Further, the researchers discovered that "running up the score" by winning the first game by a large margin, neither increases nor decreases the probability of winning the second game, when quality and talent are considered balanced.
The study will be published in the journal Economics Letters.