David Romer has studied football coaches’ decisions on whether to punt or go for it on fourth down. He has written a paper arguing that, generally, going for it makes much more sense than punting. Yet NFL coaches go for it on fourth down only in very circumscribed situations. This leads Romer to conclude that people often fail to choose the most rational option to achieve their goals.
Interestingly, since Romer’s findings have become known, NFL coaches have become more conservative in their play calling in fourth down situations. So, pointing out this case of irrationality has actually made coaches less rational! (Hat tip: Greg Mankiw.)