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Downswing Fast and Slow

The Horizon High School Research Projects

Danielle Goodstein, a Horizon Academic research participant from New York, started golfing when she was four. She started competing in tournaments at eleven. She spent three years playing varsity before her senior season was COVID-canceled. But what makes Danielle stand out the most, other than her great talent, is that she doesn’t just think about golf: she thinks about thinking about golf. With the help of the Horizon’s high school research program, Danielle had the chance to explore her introspections through behavioral economics.

Danielle Goodstein, who wrote about behavioral economics and golf for her Horizon Academic high school research project. She has long red hair, is wearing a white shirt, and is on a cloudy blue black ground.

Danielle Goodstein, who wrote about behavioral economics and golf for her Horizon Academic high school research project.

Behavioral economics is a young science; developed by Israeli researchers Danielle Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the discipline outlines human decision making more realistically than traditional economics. When asked to explain a little of what she’s learned during her extracurricular research project with Horizon Academic, her eyes lit up as she talked about marbles - specifically, red ones. “Take the probability of drawing seven red marbles from a bag that is 90% red and 10% white. That’s the conjunctive event. Then take the probability of drawing at least one red marble from a bag with reversed proportions. This is the disjunctive event. You’ve got a less than fifty percent shot at succeeding in the first, and more than a fifty percent shot on the second, but everyone prefers the conjunctive event.”

Amov Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, the two psychologists that founded the field of behavioral economics in the 70s. Tversky, left, wears a checkered green button down and Kahneman wears a white button down. They are outside in the sunlight in front of a leafy back ground with glasses and jug of something. Kahneman holds a large red book. They both have pink flowers in their right ears. Kahneman and Tversky founded the field of behavioral economics, which the Horizon Academic Research Program offers classes on.

Amov Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, the two psychologists that founded the field of behavioral economics in the 70s.

Such irrationalities are a feast for a curious mind, and Danielle wanted to see how these concepts apply to a sport that means so much to her; they apply quite a lot, it turns out. She reviewed her research, and the rest of her Horizon Academic experience, in a testimonial with Horizon research associate Zak Rosen, an edited transcript of which is below.

ZR: Hello Danielle! So, where are you at in school right now and what do you do for fun?

DG: I’m going to be attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the fall, which I’m really excited about.

ZR: Congratulations!

DG: Thank you! I’m going to be studying business and economics. And in my free time I go to the golf range and also hang out with my friends, though the pandemic has made that difficult.

ZR: That’s hard. Is the golf range still open?

DG: The one near me is. I’ve been going a bunch with my brother, he’s thirteen and wants to learn so I’ve been teaching him.

ZR: Perfect chance to test out your theories. Can you talk more about what golf means to you?

DG: It’s a big constant in my life. At the end of 7th grade I moved schools and so much changed, but I always had my swing. I began the college recruiting process but realized I didn't want to play college golf. And I didn’t want golf to ever be a source of stress.

Danielle on the golf range; she wears black shorts and a blue top, and she holds a yellow golf flag at the end of a white flagstick.  She stands in front of a golf hole with a putter on a green. Danielle's love of golf was inspired her to study it for her Horizon Academic research program high school project.

Danielle on the golf range.

ZR: How’d you hear about Horizon?

DG: Two summers ago I was a part of a Yale summer economics program, and then an extension program in DC. The next summer I wanted to take the next step and put what I learned into practice. So I google searched for research programs and found Horizon Academic. With Horizon I could use what I learned and apply it to research.

ZR: That’s awesome. I’ve read your paper and I love how you apply behavioral economics in such a novel way. What is your favorite heuristic?

DG: Anchoring. People use previous experiences from other holes to decide whether they’re going to hit over a body of water or a sand trap, but each shot is different. I love the mathematics of it all, and thinking about risk.

ZR: Was it difficult to fuse golf and behavioral economics?

DG: Not at all. Decisions on the golf course are symbolic of decisions in everyday life. People make choices at school and work. Behavioral economics can help someone figure out the benefit of one decision over another, the opportunity cost. Whether it’s golf or anything else, I can’t think of a time when understanding these heuristics and behavioral economics isn’t useful.

ZR: Do you think you’ll try to publish?

DG: Yes. I got into the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at UMICH, largely because of the work I did with Horizon. I’m going to keep doing humanities and economics research. I probably need to edit my paper a little, but I want to publish.

Title and abstract of Danielle’s paper; "Anchoring in the Game of Gold: A Proposal on How Recreational Golfers Can Reduce the Effects of Uncertainty and Anchoring in Performance."

Title and Abstract of Danielle’s paper.

ZR: How do you feel about the work you’ve done?

DG: I’m really proud. I’ve always pushed myself beyond my comfort zone, and this was really challenging. I didn’t think I’d be able to finish but I did. Horizon helped me a lot. I enjoyed the lectures and the TA sessions where they critiqued our papers. I had so much guidance even though my project was really unconventional. Writing this paper helped me realize that I want a career in analyzing economic decisions and financial risk.

ZR: Fantastic. Congratulations again and good luck, it seems like you’re on track.

DG: Thank you, I appreciate it.

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