We all like to think that we’re intelligent, independent people, able to make rational, calculated decisions based on our own thoughts on a particular situation. However, it’s been repeatedly shown that, while we may think we’re able to make good, individualized value judgments, the truth is that our decisions are more often based on bias and public opinion than on any concrete facts or evidence.

Whether it’s down to simple laziness or simply more a product of our society and culture, the fact is that people often let their judgment be clouded by factors that have no effect on an event’s outcome. This phenomenon is known as the Halo Effect, and it partly stems from the brain’s need to quickly evaluate a situation to determine the most likely outcome.

Part of the Halo Effect concerns the order in which we receive information, as the brain tends to prioritize the info it receives first—whether the order has any relevance or not. The other half of the Halo Effect places a higher significance on certain events or details, again whether or not that significance actually exists.

This relates to betting because the Halo Effect causes us to be biassed towards or against a certain team, no matter what the actual evidence or probability suggests.

An example of Halo Effect in sports betting

Take for instance the Brazilian men’s national football team, which continues to be thought of by many as the best team in the world—despite the fact that their last World Cup win was in 2002. Going into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a majority of fans and pundits around the globe were convinced that Brazil would win.

This perfectly illustrates the Halo Effect, as people were picking Brazil to win simply because of the misconceived notion that they have the best team, despite the fact that a quick look at the statistics would likely erase any notion of their team being the best. At the end of the day, Brazil was mercilessly beaten by Germany in the semi-finals, proving just how dangerous it is to make betting decisions based on your personal biases or gut feelings.

The reason that the notion of Brazil having the best team exists is in part due to the team’s early successes in the 50s, 60s and 70s. At that time, Brazil was indeed the best team on the planet, and they have also produced some of the best footballers’s in the world. Yet this bias continues to be perpetuated by the media today to the point where many football fans and even casual observers automatically equate Brazilian players and teams with being the best.

For whatever reason, everything related to Brazilian football has this Halo Effect around it, causing us to play significance on their past achievements—despite the fact that they have no effect on the game today.

How to overcome the Halo Effect in gambling

In gambling, the Halo Effect is dangerous because it can cloud your judgment and keep you from looking at the game from a purely statistical viewpoint based on probabilities. When betting, your choices should always be based on probability, not just because you think Team A is the best, but because you’ve judged the bet to have good value. The Halo Effect can also work in the reverse, causing you to be biased against a team for the same misguided reasons.

The point of all this isn’t to tell you that you’re wrong for thinking Team A is the best or not liking Team B. The point is that you should never let these types of judgments influence your betting decisions. Developing a successful betting strategy requires being able to process all of the available information to reach an informed decision that is based only on facts, not on preconceived notions.

However, this isn’t always an easy task, as often these preconceptions are so deeply ingrained in the mind that you’re not even aware of them. Still, after learning about how the Halo Effect can influence your thinking, you’ll be better prepared to recognize your own biases.

The easiest way to ensure your bets are not based on the Halo Effect is to thoroughly examine all of the objective data you can. This will allow you to get a better idea of the actual probability of an event happening, which can then be used to determine the value of a bet.

You can refer to this article for other key components a winning betting mindset.

Closing thoughts

The Halo effect can be one of the main reasons that many bettors are unable to sustain long term profits. Learning how to deal with that will help become profitable in the long run.

The human brain is an amazing tool, but it does have a weakness when it comes to evaluating statistically probabilities. While intuition may help save your life in a dangerous situation, it can cause harm if it’s used for statistical reasoning. Of course, now that you know how it works, all that’s left is to make sure you don’t let the Halo Effect cloud your judgment.

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