Money and Fame : Vividness Effects in the National Basketball Association

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-44
Journal / PublicationJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number1
Online published2 Jun 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


In his widely reprinted paper "On the Folly of Rewarding A, While Hoping for B," Kerr argued that vividness was one of the major reasons for distorted rewards. Using both archival and survey data, the present paper directly tests Kerr's proposal by investigating whether, how, and why highly visible behaviors are over-rewarded and less visible, but similarly (or more) important behaviors are under-rewarded. The National Basketball Association (NBA) was chosen as the domain of this study because scoring is particularly vivid, even though both non-scoring and scoring performances are critical for winning games. Findings from four studies demonstrated that the scoring performance of NBA players was weighed more heavily than their non-scoring performance. Scorers were rewarded with higher salaries and received more support in the NBA All-Star balloting than defenders, even though they might not necessarily make more contribution than their teammates. This pattern of findings suggests that the vividness effect may lead to pronounced differences in people's judgments, especially when they face abundant real-world information with similar validity.

Research Area(s)

  • Judgment and decision making, NBA, The vividness effect