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Why Do People Support Underdogs And Find Them So Appealing?

Date:
December 20, 2007
Source:
Sage Publications
Summary:
Do people root for the clear winner or the underdog when they watch competitions? Recent research showed that people most often support the underdog. The researchers propose that those who are viewed as disadvantaged arouse people's sense of fairness and justice -- important principles to most people.

In a series of studies, researchers from the University of South Florida tested the scope of people's support for those who are expected to lose, seeking to understand why people are drawn to the Rocky Balboas and the Davids (versus Goliaths) of the world.

Using both sports and political examples, the researchers* asked study participants to react to various scenarios presenting different competitors with an advantage or disadvantage.

For instance, in one study using the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, the participants were given the same essay about the history of the area, but with different maps to reference -- one showing Palestine as smaller than Israel (and thus, the underdog) and the other showing Israel as smaller.

No matter what scenario the participants were presented with, they consistently favored the underdog to win.

Why do people support underdogs and find them so appealing?

The researchers propose that those who are viewed as disadvantaged arouse people's sense of fairness and justice -- important principles to most people.

The researchers also found that people tend to believe that underdogs put forth more effort than top-dogs, but that favorable evaluation disappeared when the underdog status no longer applies, such as when people are expected to lose but have a lot of available resources.

The article, "The Appeal of the Underdog" is published in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Researchers from University of South Florida included Joseph A. Vandello, Nadav P. Goldschmied, and David A. R. Richards.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sage Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Sage Publications. "Why Do People Support Underdogs And Find Them So Appealing?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071219155445.htm>.
Sage Publications. (2007, December 20). Why Do People Support Underdogs And Find Them So Appealing?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071219155445.htm
Sage Publications. "Why Do People Support Underdogs And Find Them So Appealing?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071219155445.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

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