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The underdog effect
h [electronic resource] :
b definition, limitations, and motivations. why do we support those at a competitive disadvantage? /
by Nadav Goldschmied.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2005.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 112 pages.
ABSTRACT: From politics to sports to business, people are quick to categorize those at a competitive disadvantage as underdogs. Moreover, there is ample anecdotal support that most people do not hesitate to align themselves with underdogs, a phenomenon called the underdog effect. A series of studies were conducted to examine the scope and limitations of the underdog effect. The first study explored the extent of the underdog effect and determined that resources play a crucial role in forming alliances with those whom we perceive to have the lower chance to succeed. A second series of experiments assessed whether participants, who demonstrated the underdog effect, did truly support those at a competitive disadvantage or merely rooted against the favorite. The first experiment in this series framed questions in terms of either losing or winning, thus forcing the responders to pick the more salient of their perceptions of a novel competition scenario.Support for the underdog was found to be more extreme than rooting against the top-dog. The next experiment in this series explored the human perception under spoiler condition, when the underdog does not have much to gain from winning the competition, but the stakes are high for the top dog due to possible adverse repercussions above and beyond of the present competition. Spoilers were not supported more than non-spoilers. Finally, the last series of studies used memory as an indirect measure of focus of attention. Some evidence for rooting against top dogs was found.
Adviser: Joseph Vandello, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
The Underdog Effect: Definition, Limitations, and Motivations. Why Do We Support Those at a Competitive Disadvantage? by Nadav Goldschmied A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Psychology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Joseph Vandello, Ph.D. Judith Bryant, Ph.D. Kristen Salomon, Ph.D. Date of Approval: July 19, 2005 Keywords: justice, competition, schadenfreude Copyright 2005, Nadav Goldschmied
i Table of Contents List of Tables v List of Figures vi Abstract vii Introduction 1 Identification, Esteem, and Emotional Affiliation of Third Party Observers 1 The Appeal of the Underdog 5 Schadenfreude as a Possible Explanation 8 Justice-Based Motivations 13 Utilitarian-Based Motivations 15 Overview of the Present Studies and Hypotheses 17 Study 1: Exploring th e Underdog Construct 20 Method 20 Participants 20 Procedure 21 Results Study 1a 23 Who is the underdog? 24 Which team would you like to win? 24 Which team would you root for? 26 Social Dominance Orientation 26
ii Results Study 1b: Sports, Po litics, and Business Vignettes 27 Sports Vignettes 27 Which team is going to win? 27 Who is the underdog? 27 Which team would you like to win? 27 Which team would you root for? 28 Social Dominance Orientation 28 Political Vignette 30 Which candidate is going to win the elections? 30 Who is the underdog? 30 Who would you like to win? 31 For whom would you vote? 31 Social Dominance Orientation 31 Business Vignette 31 Which restaurant is going to do better? 31 Who is the underdog? 31 Who would you like to succeed? 31 Where would you dine? 32 Social Dominance Orientation 32 Discussion 32 Studies 2-4: Underdog or Schadenfreude? 34 Study 2: Framing Compet itions as Desire to See Win or Lose 35 Method 35
iii Participants 35 Procedure 35 Results 36 Discussion 37 Study 3: The Role of the Spoiler 38 Method 38 Participants 38 Procedure 38 Results 39 Which team is going to win? 39 Who is the underdog? 39 Which team would you like to win? 39 Which team would you root for? 40 Social Dominance Orientation 41 Discussion 42 Study 4: Attentional Focus While Observing a Competition 43 Method 43 Participants 43 Procedure 44 Results 45 Pre-Video underdog support 45 Which team would you like to win? 45 Which team would you root for? 45
iv Memory (post-video watching): Recall 46 Memory (post-video watching): Recognition 46 Exploratory analyses about at tributions for performance 47 Discussion 49 General Discussion 51 Limitations 55 Future Directions 57 References 59 Appendices 65 Appendix A. Study 1 Materials: Exploring the Underdog Construct 66 Appendix B. Study 2 Materials: Frami ng Competitions as Desire to See Win or Lose 82 Appendix C. Study 3 Materials: The Role of the Spoiler 88 Appendix D. Study 4 Materials: Atte ntional Focus While Observing a Competition 95
v List of Tables Table 1 Desire for each team to win the game as a function of expectations for success and resources, Study 1a 25 Table 2 Desire for each team to win th e game as a function of past history of success and resources, Study 1b 30
vi List of Figures Figure 1 Support extended to underdogs / top dogs under s poiler and nonspoiler scenarios, Study 3 41 Figure 2 Percentage of recognition of underdog/top dog players when resources are present or not, Study 4 48
vii The Underdog Effect: Definition, Limitations, and Motivations. Why Do We Support Those at a Competitive Disadvantage? ABSTRACT From politics to sports to business, people are quick to categorize those at a competitive disadvantage as underdogs. Mo reover, there is ample anecdotal support that most people do not hesitate to ali gn themselves with underdogs, a phenomenon called the underdog effect. A series of studies were conducted to examine the scope and limitations of the underdog effect. The first study explored the extent of the underdog effect and determined that resources play a crucial role in forming alliances with those whom we perceive to have the lower chance to succeed. A second series of experiments assessed whether participants, who demonstrated the underdog effect, did truly support those at a competitive disadvantag e or merely rooted against the favorite. The first experiment in this series framed que stions in terms of e ither losing or winning, thus forcing the responders to pick the mo re salient of their perceptions of a novel competition scenario. Support for the under dog was found to be more extreme than rooting against the top-dog. The next experi ment in this series explored the human perception under spoiler c ondition, when the underdog does not have much to gain from winning the competition, but the stakes are high for the t op dog due to possible adverse repercussions above a nd beyond of the present competition. Spoilers were not supported more than non-spoilers. Finally, the la st series of studies used memory as an
viii indirect measure of focus of attention. So me evidence for rooting against top dogs was found.
1 Introduction People are drawn to competitions pitting rivals with disparate power. David vs. Goliath. The USA hockey amateur team vs. the mighty Russians in the miracle on ice. Truman vs. Dewey in the 1948 race for the presidency. Competition plays a major role in social interaction in most cultures (but see Bonta, 1997, for exceptions). Given the importance of competition across many situations it would be highly valuable to explore not only the nature of the competition itself but also the way people shape their opinions and alliances about competitive situations in which they dont take an active part. This research project examines three core aspects of imbalanced competitive situations: What are the elements that make an entity qualify as an under dog? What do observers feel when they approach a competition of disparate power: in essence, do they feel sympathy towards the little guy or do they wish for th e mighty to fall? And, finally, what drives unattached observers to support th e Davids of the world? Is it the sense of justice, which is aroused by the uneven situation, or is it a utilitarianism motive, which proclaims that third-party onlookers buy an insurance policy by supporting the underd og? After all, by definition, the underdog is expected to lo se and one can only gain if the underdog surprisingly overcomes the top dog. Identification, Esteem, and Emotional Affiliation of Third Party Observers A good deal of research has focused on partisan observers and the way they perceive competition. In an early classic, Hastorf and Cantril (1954) studied observers
2 who were known to be supporters of a football team and showed that their perception was largely influenced by selectiv e interpretation, the tendency to shape perceptions to fit ones own perspective. Their study, They Saw a Game, showed that students from Dartmouth and Princeton, whose teams comp eted on the football fi eld, couldnt agree on the number of fouls committed in the game, w ho was responsible, or which team started the rough play (e.g., 86% of Princeton student s, but only 36% of Dartmouth students said Dartmouth). More recently, Thompson (1995) created a work environment setting in which participants role-played employer-employee job contract negotiation. She divided the participants into thr ee levels of involvement: actual ne gotiators, partisan observers who were assigned to empathize with one of the sides, and non-partisan observers. The latter group made judgments that were different from the other two with resp ect to the level of friendliness and honesty attributed to each si de, but, more importantly, this group was able to make more accurate judgments of th e situation overall. Thompson, therefore, demonstrated how easy it was to shape one s perception based on his or her assigned alliance with one of the sides. Other research has shown how identifica tion with a group can be altered by the groups success (End, Dietz-Uhler, Harrick, & Jacquemotte, 2002; Sloan, 1989; Wann, Tucker, & Schrader, 1996). Cialdini and colleagues (1976), for example, followed college students post-outcome behaviors af ter football games. They found that, following a home victory, student s were more likely to wear clothes bearing the name of their university and were more likely to use inclusive language (i.e., we, us) than after a loss. The authors termed the fans behavior basking in reflected glory (or
3 BIRGing) and claimed that this behavior de rives from self-presentation motives. This tendency, in turn, can be best understood in light of the social ident ity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986), which proposes that individuals are motivated to gain positive self-esteem through their group memberships. Tajfel (1978 ) described this as that part of an individuals self-concept wh ich derives from his knowledge of his membership of a social group together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership. According to Sloan (1989), what ones team achieves, one personally achieves. Moreover, the complementary phenom enon of CORFing, or cutting off reflective failure, was also found as a strate gy for fans of losing teams (Cialdini et al., 1976; Wann & Branscombe, 1990). Those fans tended to attempt to disassociate from the losing team in social settings so that ot hers would not judge them in an unfavorable light. Affiliating with a team or group can also in fluence self-evaluations. For example, Hirt, Zillmann, Erickson and Kennedy (1992) de monstrated that fans who watched their team win estimated their own performance on a set of unrelated tasks as higher compared to a control group. In the same experiment a third group of fans who watched a loss of their beloved team showed the least level of self-esteem. For those fans, their team performance had similar effects as if they were failing personally. Schweitzer, Zillmann, Weaver, and Luttrell (1992) have even found th at fans distressed over their teams loss estimated a feared war with Iraq as signifi cantly more likely and more devastating than did fans whose team won.
4 All the research described a bove dealt with partisan obs ervers, or individuals who in some capacity had a past history of vested interest or were assigned to identify with one side. Preexisting affiliations carry with them emotional attachment and commitment to the entity in its struggle to succeed. It is, therefore, important to note the difference between observers who are motivat ed interpreters of an event (i.e., fans, patrons) and those who have no pre-existing affiliations. Most people are fans or supporters of a cause, team, or candidate only when it pertains to a limited realm of issues of immediate concern to them (Kinder, 1998). However, it does not preclude them from having an immediate opinion or affective reaction when they encounter a novel situation. Zajonc ( 1980) defined the primacy of affect as the precedence in time that affectiv e reactions take over cognitive ones and their immediate, involving, inescapable, and compe lling nature. Other researchers (Epstein, 1984; Lazarus, 1982) challenged this model, suggesting instead a primitive form of nonconscious cognition operating before the affect ive stage emerges. Regardless of which of these two major theories holds true, it appears that people do not require much information or strong pre-existing notions to form an opinion or emotions when it comes to dealing with novel situations. Based on social identity theory and BIRGing and CORFing behavi ors, it would be reasonable to expect that non-partisan obser vers of an imbalanced competitive event would also support the side with the best ch ance of success. Dominant parties with a proven past track record might be expected to offer attr active targets with which to identify, if self-esteem is closely tied with identification with groups. Hogg and Abrams (1988) were able to establish that a process of selective di fferentiation between in-groups
5 and out-groups serves the purpose of obtaining a relatively positive self-evaluation that endows the individual with a sense of wellbeing, enhanced self-worth and esteem. However, contrary to this logic, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that unattached observers in fact support those who ar e at a competitive disadvantage. The Appeal of the Underdog Classic examples of rivals with a di sparity of power are numerous and extend from the early days of humankind, ranging from the paragon biblical story of David and Goliath, throughout mythology when Troy faced the almighty Greeks, to modern day geopolitical examples pitting the USA as the lone superpower against much less powerful rivals. Sometimes the lopsided struggle i nvolves groups (for example, the USA hockey amateur team versus the mighty Russians in the miracle on ice), while at other times the rivalry is between individuals (for exam ple, Truman versus Deweys famous come from behind to win the presidency in 1948). When such disparities of power or expecta tions exist, one side is often labeled as an underdog. The term underdog surfaced first in the 19 th century and since then came to signify one at a disadvantage and expect ed to lose (Hyper Dic tionary Online, 2004). The phrase originated from dog fighting, a common practice in those days, in which the losing dog was declared as the under dog because it would usually submit, rolling over on its back, allowing the stronger dog to tower over him. The weaker dog then was literally under the stronger one. One should note that being an underdog, based on this definition, exists for the most part in th e time before an outcome is determined.
6 The Merriam-Webster dictiona ry lists two definitions of an underdog: (1) a loser or predicted loser in a struggl e or contest; and (2) a victim of injustice or persecution (Merriam Webster, 1994). While the first char acterization is similar to the one described above, the second raises the issue of justice in determining w ho qualifies to be labeled as an underdog. Despite the commonness of underdogs, almost no research has examined peoples tendency to back (or not back) them. Contrary to the notion that non-affiliated observers tend to support the stronger si de (following the assumption of social identity theory), there is some limited evidence that individua ls are drawn to supporting underdogs rather than dominant entities. For instance, Frazier and Snyder (1991) demonstrated that students exposed to short scenarios describing a competition between a hypothetical, heavily favored team and a le sser counterpart in a seven-ga me playoff series (with no other information available) showed a marked favoritis m (88.1%) towards the underdog. After the participants made their judgment, they were told that the heavily favored team lost the first three consecutive games and t hus was on the brink of elimination from the series. Faced with the new reversal of roles, about half of the participants (49 out of the 99 people who favored the original underdog) changed their allegi ances and preferred that the original less capable team lose the next game, a possible testament to the transient nature of who qualifies as an underdog. Moreover, demonstrating once again how fickle the underdog attri bution process is, when encount ered with a third and last scenario in which the two teams were tied at three games, each going to the last deciding match in the series, 37 out of 44 participan ts changed their allegiances once again and expressed their hope for a win for the original underdog.
7 Markus, McGuire, Allison, and Eylon ( 2004), in an unpublished work, were able to replicate Frazier and Snyders (1991) findings and to show that participants extended support to underdogs both in the sport arena and in the bus iness domain. Their definition of an underdog was based on past success and fa ilure history. In both sports and business settings, a majority of the participants we re able to easily categorize the side in a disadvantage as carrying the label of an underdog (80% and 82%, respectively). Moreover, participants reported that they w ould be much more pleased if the underdog won, compared to the top dog. Ceci and Kain (1982) used the presid ential race of 1980 between Carter and Reagan to demonstrate the underdog effect. They showed their participants fake polls indicating either of the candidates holding a dominant lead. Among the participants who were exposed to a Carter lead, 44% declar ed themselves in Reagans camp, versus roughly 30% in Carters, while 25% remained undecided. When other participants were notified that Reagan was holdi ng a substantial lead in th e polls, only 21% declared themselves in his favor while approximatel y 53% aligned themselves with Carter. Moreover, the authors divided the participants into those who had an initial inclination towards one of the candidates before the pol ls were introduced (i.e., fans) and those who had no inclination at all (the undecide d). Even among th e first group, 22% of those belonging to the Reagan camp and 30% of the Carter camp shifted their support based on the polls showing dominance of their candidate. Among the early-undecided group the shift was even more staggering, as 66% changed their minds to oppose the dominant frontrunner.
8 The sound support extended to the underdog is especially puzzling in light of the Websters dictionary definition, which characterizes the underdog as a loser (Merriam Webster, 1994). In turn, Websters definition for a loser is: (1) one that loses especially consistently; (2) one who is incompetent or unable to succeed; a nd (3) something doomed to fail or disappoint (Merriam Webster, 1994) The dictionary states that the idiom sprang from student slang in the mid 1950s and came to signify a "hapless person". It has obvious negative connotations for the in dividual it labels. Why, then, do people overwhelmingly support an entity, wh ich, in essence, is a loser? But this anomaly goes even a step further. Sympathy for underdogs may extend beyond rooting for them as an observer to activel y seeking to label oneself as such. It is not uncommon to find two competitors vying for the underdog label to shy away from any semblance of superiority prior to the competition itself. In both sports and politics, all parties seem reluctant to hold the label of frontrunner, and willing or even happy to embrace the label of underdog. Quotes like "Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts lead in the latest tracking polls in New Hampshire, but both are calling themselves underdogs as they retool their campaigns in a changed political landscape." (www.cnn.com, 1/21/04) ar e plenty. It seems that there is an intuitive understanding that people pref er and sympathize with underdogs. In the present studies, people were exposed to competitions that pitted two sides with some type of inequityeither having di ffering expectations for performance, having disparities in resources, or both. This allowed for an examination of peoples definition of underdogs, as well as an examination of the conditions under which people support disadvantaged entities.
9 Schadenfreude as a Possible Explanation There could be multiple motivations behind the sympathy and support that people extend to the underdog. One possibility is that people do not so much root for the underdog as much as they root against the more dominant entity. That is, what may appear to be sympathy may instead be motiv ated more by pleasure in seeing a powerful figure or team knocked off its pedestal, a phenomenon known as schadenfreude, or the joy people take in the fall from grace of others Sport, as an example, is by definition a zero sum game: While one team is winning, it s opponent is invariab ly losing. It is possible that standing behind the underdog is just the mirror image of aspiring for the strong side to lose. Maybe, because of social desirability among other possible reasons, nonpartisan observers publicly support the underdog while privately aspiring for the mighty to fall. People are taught from infancy to think th at good things that happen to others should please them, while bad things that ha ppen to others ought to be upsetting and disturbing to the moral person. Sometimes, as we mature, the feeling of joy in the misfortune of others creeps on us. Nietzs che (1887/ 1967) was th e first to label the concept of schadenfreude as an emotional reaction in the repertoire of feelings experienced by human beings. He described it as the malicious pleasure that people take in the misfortune of others. Heider (1958) claimed that schadenfreude is counterproductive in the social setting because pleas ure is a discordant reaction to anothers downfall and hence it establishes an anta gonistic relationship between the person who experiences it and its target. Schadenfreude is opportunistic by na ture, indirect and passive. In other words, people who experience schadenfreude do not actively seek the
10 demise of other people or plan for it, but feel a burst of joy when encountering news about a setback someone else suffered. Niet zsche added that seeing other people suffer and experiencing schadenfreude while not actively engaging in direct competition is socially less acceptable. Smith and colleagues (1996) sought to verify the existence of schadenfreude in everyday experiences. They showed participants a short videotape of a prospective medical student describing himself. The student was made to appear either superior or average. An epilogue informed participants that the student was re cently caught stealing and thus would not be admitted to medical school. Participants who watched the interview of the better-qualified student were more pleased upon learning that this person suffered the setback than pa rticipants who watched his average counterpart, thus supporting the schadenfreude phenomenon and introducing envy as a predisposed state to the joy people take in others fall from grace. In their research on the elections of 1980 described a bove, Ceci and Kain (1982) determined that polls did not create positiv e feelings towards the underdog but, instead, created a negative reaction towa rds the candidate depicted as having a dominant position. Thus, participants, who were shown one contender as leading in an early stage, swayed away from him (a ranking of 3.27 on a 7-point scale, as opposed to a 3.94 ranking in a control group, which had never been exposed to the polls). But when the same group was presented later on with anothe r poll indicating a shift in the polls towards the previous underdog, making him a dominant frontrunner, the participants shifted their support once again back to the current underdog. This shif t, however, was approximately to the same range of the control group (3.9) convincing the authors that the seemingly large shifts
11 between the inconsistent conditions were due to oppositional reactivity, not necessarily underdog feelings. Subject shifting.did not surpass the initial position and dominance information did not evoke a pos itive move towards the underdog, merely a movement away from whoever was currently being touted as dominant (p. 240). Feather and Sherman (2002) tested the hypothesis that schadenfreude would be more closely related to resentment (defined as publicly expressed when the outcome is undeserved) and a wish to correct a perceived injustice than to envy (which is privately held and can occur without a sense of injustice or resentment). Their participants responded to scenarios in which a student w ith a record of either high or average achievement that followed high or low e ffort subsequently suffered failure under conditions where there was either high or low personal control. The authors found that resentment about the student's prior achieve ment could be distinguished from envy, based on the results of factor analysis. Schadenfreude about the student's subsequent failure was predicted by resentment and not by envy; thus, deservingness was a key variable in the models that were tested. Leach and colleagues (Leach, Spears, Branscombe, & Doosje, 2003) demonstrated schadenfreude in the sports domain as it manifests itself in inter-group relations. Dutch soccer fans were asked about their feelings in rega rds to failure of the German national team in the international ar ena. Based on pilot st udies and history, the researchers were able to establish that the two nations were percei ved by the Dutch as competitors and, hence, predicted and subseque ntly found that the latter would be likely to experience schadenfreude in the face of a German defeat by a third party. The authors argued that, although it is generally unacceptable to experience malicious feelings such as
12 dislike, domain interest (i .e., the perceived importance of the issue at hand) and inferiority threat (in this case, based on history and relative size of the two nations) might make schadenfreude seem more acceptable. But why would we expect nonpartisan obs ervers who had no prior knowledge of two entities to develop schadenfreude after reading short vignettes describing competitions of disparate strength? A possi ble answer may lay in social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954; Tesser, 1991; Wills, 1991). In this case, the envy or resentment is literally defined by a comparison process. Following the finding th at sympathy is more easily generated by misfortune happening to average, rather than superior, people, Brigham and colleagues (Brigham, Kelso, Jackson, & Smith, 1997) proposed that schadenfreude arises when people feel that a misfortune befalling on others removes the negative, self-related effects of an invidious comparison. Moreover, because of its distinct features (i.e., opport unistic, indirect and passive), schadenfreude becomes a welcomed guest by a nonpartisan observer wi th little or no effect whatsoever on the developing nature of the competition. Whatever basic process takes precedent schadenfreude or rooting for the underdog the manifested outcome by non-partisan observers is the sa me (i.e. rooting for the underdog and against the top dog falls in real life into the same category of siding with one side against the other). On th e other hand, the possibl e underlying motivations behind the support they extend could be diverse. Some of the possible motivations are reviewed below.
13 Justice-Based Motivations People are motivated to believe that the wo rld is basically a ju st place (Lerner, 1975, 1977). Lerner (1977) was the first to id entify justice as a primary motive rather than a derivate of other motives, such as self-interest or normative roles. Conditions of scarcity of resources ca ll for assessment of resource allocation based on the justice argument of deservingness (Skitka and Tetlock, 1992 ). In the current study, unattached observers are asked to make decisions whom to support based on past performance. Winning eventu ally will belong to only one party of the two direct competitors (hence the scarcity of resources). It may be reasonable to assume, therefore, that when faced with a situation of remark ably uneven history of success and failure, the unattached observer will be calle d to examine his or her inner concepts of justice and the distribution of fate in the world. Deutsc h (1985) labels such a scenario relative deprivation, a violation of a perceived entitlement, which is a driving force behind the arousal of the sense of injustice. In other words, third party observers may implicitly introduce the term of fairness to their assessment of the situation. They may ask themselves if the distribution of rewards is fa ir or unfair in relation to both entities as well as to general principles of justice and legitimi zed norms that are part of the social fabric. Skitka and Tetlocks (1992) contingency model of resource distribution proposes that after an allocator of resources makes a de termination that a situation of insufficiency exists, she or he turns to attributional anal ysis. The question then is: are the claimants personally responsible for their predicament or not? The next stage involves a situation in which the resources are still in short suppl y after the internal-con trol claimants were denied resources. Now the allocator has to a ppraise claimants deservingness: Are some
14 claimants needier than others and would provi ding aid to some be more effective than to others? The authors also mention that the allocation will be affected by the ideology of the allocator and draw from findings by Carro ll, Perkowitz, Lurigio and Weaver (1987), who identified two clusters of ideological variables: cognitive conservatism and liberal humanism which shaped allocation behavior. Deutsch (1975, 1985), in the c ontext of distributive ju stice, suggests that in competitive situations in which productivity is highly valued, equity or the principle of outcome distribution among entities will be based on the proportion of input or contribution, while the principle of equality (distributing outcomes based on need) will gain the upper hand in cooperative situations. Thus, the nature of the situation may elicit different and competing justice principles. One could easily argue that justice concer ns do not serve at the basis of underdog effect. Past research (Frazier & Snyder 1991; Markus, McGuire, Allison, & Eylon, 2004) has established the support for the underd og without stating a ny qualifications on the traits of the competing side s (that is, in these experiment s, participants responded to brief scenarios in which little was known about the actors other than their standings as underdogs or top dogs). It is possi ble that the past history of lo sing is attributed to lack of effort, general ineptitude and squandering of resources. If this is the case, the justice motive should not play a significant role in supporting the underdog based on the concept of deservingness (Feather, 1991) An alternative possibility is that detached observers assume otherwise (i.e., a match between lack of success and a state of relative deprivation) and base their favoritism towards the weaker side as part of an overall perception of the world as an unfair place. Does the support extended to the underdog
15 offer people the opportunity to symbolically rec tify the unjust world they perceive? It is possible that there is an element in the dire ct competition scenario, which sharpens this notion, and pushes the majority of people to align themselves with the underdog. Even if this is the case, one could argu e about the degree of difference one game or a rudimentary political race could make. In this case, proponents of the justice motive argue that fairness is served by the mere presentation of a second least expected outcome (i.e., the winning of the underdog), which make s the difference. After all, it was Melvin Lerner himself who called his brainchild a fundamental delusion (Lerner, 1980). Utilitarian-Based Motivations Another competing explanation for the s upport that non-partisan observers extend to the underdog may derive from a rather oppos ite motivation. Instead of seeking justice and trying to even the odds, onlookers may be guided by a rational, utilitarian standpoint. From this perspective, the choice of partie s for whom to root follows a cold, rational calculation in terms of who will provide the biggest positive emotional payoff. This calculation is determined by expectation for success and predicted emotional payoff if successful. If the underdog concept is based on exp ectations, non-partisan observers have little to lose by supporting the underdog. Losing is expected and thus does not carry any significant adverse implications, whereas winni ng could carry favorable consequences by its mere unexpectedness. On the other hand, if support is extended to the top dog, people stand to lose more. Winning is expected and thus bears smaller positive emotional benefits, while losing, because it is unexp ected, could be devastating. A famous
16 coaching mantra states: winning is just stay ing alive, losing is dyi ng. Underlying this thought process is a cost-benefit analysis to determine ones alignments with one of the competing sides. Steve Spurri er, once a football coach at the University of Florida, was quoted after many years of success: I'd like to be the underdog again. ...Being an underdog is a little bit more fun at timesIt's almost a disgrace every time we lose. It's a relief when we win instead of (the feeling) we got when we weren't supposed to. (St. Petersburg Times, 1/8/ 2002). However conv incing the utilitarian approach is, people tend to overestimate its use as a motive fo r behavior (Miller & Ratner, 1998). The affective consequences of expected and unexpected outcomes is well grounded in Decision Affect Theory ( DAT; Shepperd & McNulty, 2002), which postulates that human beings feel displeasure when thei r outcomes fall short of the counterfactual alternative and feel elated wh en their outcomes exceed the counterfactual alternative. In the present st udies, expectations determine th e counterfactual alternative. For example, Mellers and colleagues (Melle rs, Schwartz, Ho, & Ritov, 1997) found that experimental participants who took part in a series of gambles were overjoyed following unexpected wins compared to expected ones and, by contrast, were more disappointed after unexpected losses than e xpected ones. Shepperd and McNulty (2002) also found support for the theory in a less artificial expe riment, in which expect ations of high versus low risk in a fictitious medical conditi on were manipulated. Again, expectations influenced subsequent affect. The intuitive logic of Decision Affect Theory can also be found in everyday expressions like dont get your hopes too high and expect the worse and you will never be disappointed. It is therefore, reasonable to pred ict that non-partisan observers
17 adopt this rationale to protect themselves and use the utilita rian function of supporting the underdog to further their specific self-interes ts through which they can facilitate ones access to emotional resources. When adopting this perspective fully, one would assume that people are looking to ge t the best deal possible when extending their support to the underdog. Note that this motivation does not re quire people to identif y or empathize with underdogs, nor does it require motives of justice to be elicited. Overview of the Presen t Studies and Hypotheses A series of four experiments wa s performed to explore the underdog phenomenon. The studies attempted to explore the conditions under which people supported underdogs, and whether such s upport was motivated by sympathy for the disadvantaged or pleasure in seeing the superior fall. The first study sought to clarify the defi nition of an underdog and to explore the possible limits of supporting those in a compe titive disadvantage. Past research has shown that people often support entities that ha ve low expectations for success based on past histories of failure (e.g., Frazier & Snyder, 1991; Markus, McGuire, Allison, & Eylon, 2004). Study 1 attempted to replicate this finding and de monstrate conditions when this support eroded. Specifically, an important but unstudied qualifier of this effect involves the availability of resources: Whereas underdogs ma y typically be defined as entities with low probabilitie s for success, they may not enjoy support if they are perceived to have relatively prosperous res ources. Thus, Study 1 test s the prediction that when past history of success or failure do not match relative resources (i.e., high resources/ long history of failure), the underdog effect diminishes, which qualifies
18 resources as a moderator. The underdog effect was tested in the sports, political and business realms in an attempt to genera lize the phenomenon. The resources-as-aqualifier hypothesis was tested only in the sports arena. The second series of experiments (Studies 2-4) tested schadenfreude (i.e., taking pleasure in seeing the mighty fall) as a second, possibly co mpeting explanation for the underdog effect. In Study 2, participants read vignettes abou t underdogs competing against top dogs. Half were asked about their emotions towards each team winning, while the other half were asked about their em otions toward each team losing. If people root for underdogs, the frame asking participants about the underdog winning should result in stronger ratings than th e frame asking them about the top dog losing ; however, if schadenfreude is operating, peoples emotions should be stronger when responding to the top dog losing frame compared to the unde rdog winning. It was predicted that participants generally would support the underd og, but would reverse their course (taking greater pleasure in seeing th e top dog lose than the underdog win) if the top dogs vast relative resources were made salient. Study 3 used a spoiler scenario to test the schadenfreude hypothesis. In certain competitive situations, one side has nothing to ga in or lose from a victory or loss, because ones fate has been determined (for exam ple, a political candidate has no chance of winning an election, or a team has no hope of making a playoff). Still, these entities may be able to affect the destinies of others, by keeping them from winning important rewards (e.g., elections, playoffs). If our support for underdogs is driven solely by sympathy for them, the level of support should not change if the stakes change for the top dog. However, if we are motivated by schadenfreude, victories by underdogs should be
19 particularly satisfying when they have the effect of punishing th e top dog (e.g., costing a rival candidate the election; knocking the riva l team from the playoffs). Study 3 tested this prediction by creating spoile r scenarios in which underdogs affected or did not affect important outcomes for the superior rival. Study 4 tested the idea that people would dir ect more of their at tention to a side for which they were rooting. To explore this participants memories of details from a video clip of a game were measured after the participants had read an underdog versus top dog scenario. It was predicted that par ticipants would recall mo re details about the underdog than the top dog when the resour ces component was mi ssing (which would strengthen the underdog effect) but more details about the top dog when noticeable resource disparities were mentione d in the vignette (i.e., supporting a schadenfreude explanation).
20 Study 1: Exploring th e Underdog Construct The goal of the first experiment was to replicate the little re search supporting the tendency to root for underdogs, to expand the findings to real life settings, and to establish boundary conditions for iden tifying and rooting for underdogs. Method Participants. One hundred twenty eight undergraduate stude nts participated in the first core sport study. The sample included 101 females (78.9%), 17 males (13.3%) and 10 who did not specify their gender (7.8%). One hundred and one undergraduate students participated in the second vignette sport study. The sample included 64 female s (63.4%), 22 males (21.8%) and 15 who did not specify their gender (14.9%). Twenty two undergraduate students partic ipated in the politics vignette study. The sample included 10 females (45.5%), 6 males (27.3%) and 6 who did not specify their gender (27.3%). Twenty three undergraduate students participated in the business vignette study. The sample included 10 females (43.5%), 8 males (34.8%) and 5 who did not specify their gender (21.7%). Students were recruited from large ps ychology undergraduate classes and the study was administered immediat ely following the lecture. Participants were awarded extra credit in exchange for their contribution to the study.
21 Procedure. Participants read scenarios about upcom ing sports competitions. Participants were presented with two versions of stimuli: a core version which stated only the very basic data (Study 1a), and a vignette vers ion similar to a newspaper article which included the core data as we ll as enriched background info rmation to create a more naturalistic and involving scenario (Study 1b) (see Appendix A for materials). In each version, one party was described as more succes sful, while the other was described as the side with the least chances of winning. The description of the two teams was minimal in the core version. This allowed isolation of the effects of differing expectations on support tendencies. However, by removing any contextual narrative information, the scenarios were also somewhat removed from mo re realistic situations people are likely to encounter. For this reason, it was decided to also create a more naturalistic, detailed scenario that would more closely mirror co mmonly encountered competitions. Hence, in the naturalistic scenario version, participants read about the sports teams in a mock news article. By employing more detailed narra tive encounters, a degree of face validity was gained, at the cost of a clean er design with less extraneous variance. Together, the two versions provided a fairly clear indica tion of peoples motivational tendencies. In each of the two studies, a manipulation was added to test whether the addition of information about relative resources coul d set boundaries to the support extended to underdogs. Crossing relative expectations a nd resources resulted in four scenario versions. Participants read a story a) pitting an expected winner against an expected loser, with no mention of resources; b) pit ting a team with abundan ce of resources (where resources refer to players salaries) vs. a t eam with limited resources; c) pitting a winner
22 with high resources against a loser with low resources; or d) pitting a winner with low resources against a loser with high resources. The participants then were asked to report which team they thought was going to win the match, who they supported and liked, which in their minds was the underdog, and why (open ended; see Appendix A). Across all scenarios, after completing th e scenario questions a questionnaire measuring social dominance orientation (Pratt o, Sidanius, Stallwort, & Malle, 1994) was administered to examine whether the tende ncy to support the underdog was embedded in a more comprehensive outlook about the world in general. The Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) scale measures the ex tent to which people desire (or oppose) hegemonic relationships betw een social groups (Pratto et al., 1994). Thus, SDO is positively associated with support for systems that help maintain hierarchical relationships between dominant and subordi nate groups (e.g., military, law and order; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). In addition, in Study 1b two news vignettes in the politics an d business realms were explored in an attempt to generalize the phenomenon to other social domains. For each of these domains, we used only one version pitting a high versus low expectation rival (with no mention of relative resources). In summary, Study 1 included four versions of a competitive sports scenario with varying information about two teams expectations for succe ss and their relative resources: 1) low versus high expectations, 2) low vs. high re sources, 3) low expectations plus low resources versus high expectations pl us high resources, 4) low expectations plus high resources versus high expectations vers us low resources. These conditions were
23 manipulated in both a short, basic version and a more naturalistic ne ws story version. In addition, two non-sports scenario contexts (bus iness and politics) were added to test the robustness of the underdog eff ect across social domains. Three predictions were made for this st udy. First, a general tendency to support underdogs compared to top dogs (as define d by history of success and failure and resources) was expected in all conditions. Second, when the expected loser had greater resources than the expected winner, support fo r the underdog was predicted to diminish. Third, the tendency to support underdogs was predicted to be attenuated for those participants who were high on so cial dominance orientation. Results Study 1a Across all experiments in this thesis, a ma in dependent variable was the degree to which underdogs (versus top dogs) were supported. This was measured by asking how much participants wanted each team to win in an upcoming competition on 9-point Likert scales. In addition, underdog s upport was also explored thro ugh self-report of behavioral measures, such as which team a person w ould root for (a dichotomous measure). Who is going to win? Across all three conditions where expectancies for winning were specifically stated, 92 out of 96 participants (96%) stated that the team with the higher likelihood would eventually win, 2 (1) = 80.67, p < .001. In the fourth, resources only condition, 28 out of 31 participants (90%) predic ted that the richer team would win, 2 (1) = 20.16, p < .001.
24 Who is the underdog? Participants were asked which team they considered the underdog. Not surprisingly, when two teams with differing expectations for success were paired (with no mention of resources), almost everyone (9 7%) thought the low expectations team was the underdog. Similarly, in the resources only condition, almost everyone (89%) thought the team with the smaller payroll was the underdog. When the team with low expectations also had the smaller payroll, th is team was also overwhelmingly chosen as the underdog (97%). However, when the te am with low expectations had the larger payroll, it was less likely to be seen as an underdog, as only 55% of participants rated it as such. Which team would you like to win? Overall, across all four conditions, the correlation between the support extended to Team A and Team B was negative, r = -.63, p < .001. Table 1 presents the mean ratings of desire for each team to win the game for each of the four conditions. In the condition pitting a team with lo w expectations versus a team with high expectations, the low expectation team was rated margin ally higher (mean = 6.69) than the high expectation team (mean = 5.50, t (31) = 1.85, p = .074). In the condition listing only the teams relative payrolls, th e low resource team was rated significantly higher (mean = 6.88) than the high resource team (mean = 4.69, t (31) = 4.17, p < .001). In the third condition, expectations for victor y were paired with resources such that the team with the lower expectation also had a smaller payroll. In this condition th e low expectations/low resources team was rated significantl y higher (mean = 7.03) than the high expectations/high resources team (mean = 4.77; t (30) = 3.69, p < .01). As hypothesized,
25 there was a general tendency to support underdogs compared to top-dogs (as defined by expectations to win, lack of relative resources or both). Most interesting was the c ondition in which resources di d not match expectations for victory. Participants rated a team with low resources bu t high expectations significantly higher (mean = 5.97) than a team with high resources but low expectations (mean = 4.33, t (32) = 2.62, p < .05). The results are even more extreme than predicted as the support completely reversed itself (the prediction was for dimi nished support for the low expectations team). Table 1. Desire for each team to win the game as a function of expec tations for success and resources, Study 1a. ____________________________________________________________________ Degree of liking to win (1-9) Team A Team B ____________________________________________________________________ 1) Team A: 70% chance of victory, 5.50 6.69 Team B: 30% chance of victory 2) Team A: high payroll, 4.69 6.88** Team B: low payroll 3) Team A: 70% chance of vict ory + high payroll, 4.77 7.03** Team B: 30% chance of victory + low payroll 4) Team A: 70% chance of vict ory + low payroll, 5.97 4.33* Team B: 30% chance of victory + high payroll ____________________________________________________________________ Note. Significant at the p< .05 level. ** Significant at the p<.001 level.
26 Which team would you root for? When only expectancies are mentioned, half of the participants (16 out of 32) reported that they would root for the team with the lower likelihood of winning. When only resources were mentioned, 19 out of 31 (61 %) participants reported that they would root for the team with a smaller payroll, 2 (1) = 1.58, p > .05. When resources matched likelihood of winning, 21 out of 31 participants (68%) said that they would root for the lower likelihood of success/ lower resources team, 2 (1) = 3.90, p < .05. All in all, in the three conditions where there was a clear disp arity between the two teams (financial or expectancies of winning), 56 out of 94 particip ants (60%) reported th at they would root for the lesser/weaker of the teams, 2 (1) = 3.45, p = .063. However, in the fourth, nonmatching, condition, 26 out of 33 participants (79 %) reported that they would root for the team with the lesser resources but higher expectancy to win, 2 (1) = 10.94, p < .001. Social dominance orientation Individuals high on social dominance orie ntation were hypothesized to be less likely to favor underdogs. To examine th is relationship between social dominance orientation and team preference, the three ve rsions where there was a clearly agreed upon underdog were examined. In each version, higher social dominance orientation scores correlated with lower support for th e underdog relative to the top dog ( r s were between .13 and -.30); however, the relationshi ps failed to reach significance (ps > .10). (Combining the three versions led to a marginally significant relationship, r (95) = -.17, p = .10). In the version pairing a team with high resources but low e xpectations against a team with low resources but high expectations there was a trend such that participants with higher scores on social dominance scale we re more favorable towards the team with
27 high resources and low expectations, howev er the correlation wa s not significant ( r = .14; p > .10). Results Study 1b: Sports, Polit ics, and Business Vignettes Sports Vignettes Which team do you think is going to win? 72 out of 76 participants thought that the team with the better history of succe ss (version 1-3) would win the upcoming match, 2 (1) = 60.84, p < .001. When only resources were mentioned (version 4), 19 out of 25 participants thought that the team with the hi gher payroll would win, 2 (1) = 6.76, p = .009. Who is the underdog? Participants were asked which team they considered the underdog. Not surprisingly, when two teams with differing past histories of success were pitted against each other (with no mention of resources), 88% thought the team with the lesser record was the underdog, 2 (1) =14.44, p < .001. Similarly, in the resources only condition, everyone (100%) thought the team wi th the smaller payroll was the underdog. When the team with the lesser past success al so had the smaller payroll, this team was also overwhelmingly chosen as the underdog (88%), 2 (1) =14.44, p < .001. However, when the team with the lesser record had the larger payroll, only 73% of participants rated it as such, 2 (1) =4.55, p < .05. Based on a contrast in proportions analysis the latter is significantly less than the previous three, Z=1.99, p < .05. Which team would you like to win? Table 2 presents the mean ratings of participants stated desire for each team to win the game across the four conditions. Overall (across all four conditions), the co rrelation between the support extended to the two teams was negative, r = -.55, p < .001.
28 In the condition pitting a t eam with a considerably be tter past history of success versus a team with a poor past history of success, the low success team was rated significantly higher (mean = 6.00 on a 1-9 scale) than the better past history success team (mean = 4.40, t (24) = 2.91, p = .05), replicating the basic underdog effect. In the condition listing only the team s relative payrolls, the low resource team was rated significantly higher (mean = 6.92) than the high resource team (mean = 4.24, t (24) = 4.09, p < .001). In the third condition, past history was pair ed with resources such that the team with the lesser past success also had a smaller payroll. In this condition the lesser success/low resources team wa s rated marginally significantly higher (mean =6.26) than the better record/ high resources team (mean = 4.89), t (26) =1.76, p = .09. As hypothesized, there was a general tendency to support underdogs compared to top-dogs (as defined by past history of success/ failu re, lack of relative resources or both). Most interesting was, again, the condition in which resources did not match history of success. When pairing a team with high resources but lesser past success (mean = 4.33) against a team with low resources but better past record (mean =6.29) participants rated the latter significantly higher than the former ( t (23) = 2.93, p < .05). The results are even more extreme than predicted as the support completely reversed its elf (the hypothesis was of diminished support). Which team would you root for? When only expectancies for winning were mentioned, 64% of the participants (16 out of 25) reported that they would root for the team with the lesser record, 2 (1) = 1.96, p > .05. When only resources were mentioned, 18 out of 25 (72%) participants reported that they would root for the team with a smaller
29 payroll, 2 (1) = 4.84, p < .05. When resources matched past record of wining, 15 out of 27 participants (56%) said that they would root for the lower likelihood of success/ lower resources team, 2 (1)= .33, p > .10. All in all, in the th ree conditions where there were clear disparities between the two teams (fin ancial or winning hi story), 49 out of 77 participants (64%) reported that they w ould root for the lesser of the teams, 2 (1) = 5.73, p = .017. In the fourth, non-matching condition, 20 out of 23 particip ants (87%) reported that they would root for the team with the lesser resources bu t better winning record, 2 (1) = 12.57, p < .001. Social dominance orientation Individuals high on soci al dominance orientation were expected to be less likely to favor unde rdogs. To examine the relationship between social dominance orientation and team preferen ce in how much the participants wanted it to win (=difference score), a correlation analys is was performed. The correlation failed to reach significance or s how any consistent pattern, r (101) = 0.04, p > .05.
30 Table 2. Desire for each team to win the game as a function of past history of success and resources, Study 1b. ___________________________________________________________________ Degree of liking to win (1-9) Team A Team B ___________________________________________________________________ 1) Team A: 29 wins against team B, 6.00 4.40* Team B: 70 wins against team A 2) Team A: low payroll, 6.92 4.24** Team B: high payroll 3) Team A: 29 wins against team B + low payroll, 6.26 4.89 Team B: 70 wins against team A + high payroll 4) Team A: 29 wins agains t team B + high payroll, 4.33 6.29* Team B: 70 wins against team A + low payroll __________________________________________________________________ Note. Significant at the p<.05 level. ** Significant at the p<.001 level. Political Vignette Which candidate is going to win the elections? Participants were presented with only one condition (counterba lanced) in which a seasoned incumbent was facing a newcomer in a congressional race. Twenty out of 22 participants (91%) thought that the incumbent would win the elections, 2 (1) =14.73, p < .001. Who is the underdog? Participants were also as ked which candidate they considered the underdog. Not surprisingly, 95% (19 out of 20) thought the newcomer was the underdog, 2 (1) =16.20, p < .001.
31 Who would you like to win? Overall, the correlation between the support extended to the two competing candidates in the elections was negative, r = -.54, p < .05. When pairing the incumbent (mean =5.09) against the newcomer (mean = 5.14), there was no significant difference in how much participants wanted them to win (t (21) = 0.71, p > .05). Contrary to the hypothesis, there was no tendency to s upport the candidate, who was in disadvantage prior to an upcoming race. For whom would you vote? 59% of the participants (13 out of 22) reported that they would vote for the incumbent, 2 (1) = .727, p > .05. Social dominance orientation. Individuals high on social dominance orientation were expected to be less likely to favor underdogs. The hypothesis was not supported, as the correlation between the tw o did not reach significance: r (22) = .124, p > .05. Business Vignette Which restaurant do you think is going to do better, financially, in the future? Participants were presented with only one condition (counterbalanced) in which chain restaurants now captured the lion share of th e market in the USA. 17 out of 23 (74%) participants thought that the chai n would do better in the future, 2 (1) =5.26, p < .05. Who is the underdog? Participants were also as ked which restaurant they considered the underdog. Not surprisingl y, 73% thought the momand-pop restaurant was the underdog, 2 (1) =4.55, p < .05. Who would you like to succeed? Overall, the correla tion between the support extended to the two entities in th e competition was negative, r = -.48, p < .05. When pairing a mom-and-pop venue (mean =7.00) ag ainst a chain (mean =5.52), participants rated the former marginally significantly high er than the latter regarding how much they
32 would like to see it succeed in the future ( t (23) =2.00, p = .059). As hypothesized, there was a tendency to support the entity in relative deprivation in a competition. Where would you dine? 57% of the participants (13 out of 23) reported that they would dine in the mom-and-pop restaurant, 2 (1) = .39, p > .05. Social dominance orientation Individuals high on soci al dominance orientation were expected to be less likely to favor unde rdogs. This hypothesis was not supported, as the correlation between the two did not reach significance r (23) = -.08, p > .05. Discussion In general, as hypothesized, people wished teams to win more when they were in a state of relative deprivation on some facet in comparison to a competitor. Teams with lower expectations for winning, unsuccessful hi stories of winning against another team, or with relatively small resources (or a combin ation of the first two with the latter) were supported significantly more than the superi or teams they were facing in hypothetical matches. These findings are in line with past research (Fra zier & Snyder, 1991) and were substantiated both in a basic minimal scenario and in more realistic newspaper articles. Also, there was consensus among participan ts that the team with the relative disadvantage was considered the underdog, no matter how this disadvantage was characterized (i.e., resources, chances of winning or past success). Support for the underdog was more mixed on a behavioral measur e, which required people to choose for which team they would root. Perhaps most interesting, in one cond ition two elements of disadvantage were pitted against each other. Specifically, teams which had lower expectations to win but possessed greater resources had their under dog designation called into question by the
33 participants. Thus, in this situation, ther e was much less consensus about whether these teams were even considered underdogs, as only 55% of participants labeled them as such in the first study and 73% in the second, desp ite their low expecta tions for success or history of failure. This is a sharp decline fr om the average of 93% classification of being an underdog when experiencing a clear disadv antage in all other conditions. Moreover, in this condition there was a significant shift of support towards the team with fewer resources but the better chance of winni ng or history of success in the past. In short, although entities given a low ch ance of success or having a past history of failure are generally consid ered underdogs, if an entity has a great deal of resources, they may nonetheless lose the underdog status and support. These resu lts suggest that an underdog is not defined simply by expectati ons for success. The findings imply that justice might be a primary motivation underl ying the underdog effect. That is, people seem to support underdogs because they ar e perceived as having less than their opponents, and people are motivated to see this disparity overcome. When those with low expectations have ample resources, it is mu ch less clear where the injustice lies, or if an injustice even exists. In fact, sympathies seemed to be driven more by resource disparity than expectations. The basic support for the underdog was gene ralized to two competing entities in the business world but failed to manifest itse lf in the world of politics were the challenger (lesser history of success) was not liked to win more than the incumbent.
34 Studies 2-4: Under dog or Schadenfreude? Assuming people do report greater support for underdogs, the next studies explored the psychology behind such support. People could support the weaker side out of some type of emotional connection, but alternatively, support may be driven more by the passive joy in the fall of grace of others. Thus, studies 2 through 4 attempted to determine which is the primary force: schadenfreude or support for the underdog.
35 Study 2: Framing Compet itions as Desire to See Win or Lose Method Participants. One hundred and nineteen undergraduate st udents participated in the framing study. The sample included 80 females (67.2 %), 24 males (20.2%) and 15 who did not specify their gender (12.6%). Students were recruited from large ps ychology undergraduate classes and the study was administered immediat ely following the lecture. Participants were awarded extra credit in exchange for their contribution to the study. Procedure. A scenario of a team with high expectat ions for success and high resources versus a team with low expectations for success and low resources preparing for an upcoming minor league baseball contest was presented. An alternate version presented a top dog vs. an underdog with no mentioning of resources. After reading about the future competition, participants reported whom they supported. A framing manipulation measured the strength of people s emotional reactions to each team. Specifically, half of the participants were asked how much they wanted to see each team win (on a 9-point scale), and their level of support. The other half was asked how much they want to see each team lose (on a 9-point scale) and their le vel of support (see Appendix B for materials). If we primarily root for the underdog, responses to the win-frame should be stronger than responses to the lose-frame ; however, if we are primarily driven by
36 schadenfreude, responses to the lose-frame should be stronger than responses to the winframe. In summary, Study 2 employed a 2 (resources vs. no mention of resources) by 2 (win vs. lose questionnaire frame) between subject design. It was hypothesized that when resources were not mentioned, participants wishing for the underdog to win would be str onger than their aspiration for the top dog to fail. In addition, it was predic ted that this course would reve rse itself when the resources disparities were made salient. To measure st rength of responses to each frame, responses of How much would you like (t he underdog) to win the game? were compared to How much would you like (the top dog) to lose the game? Results In order to test the prediction that su pport for underdogs would be greater than rooting against top dogs unless resources disparities were made salient (in which case people would root more strongly against top dogs than they would for underdogs), a 2 (win frame versus lose frame) x 2 (resources mentioned or not) anal ysis of variance was conducted on desire to see each team win or lose. A two-way ANOVA revealed a main eff ect of frame (underdog-win or top doglose) on how participants wanted a t eam to fare in the upcoming game, F (1,115) = 11.37, p = .001. In particular, participants who were asked how mu ch they wanted the underdog to win gave significantly higher ratings (mean = 6.68) than participants who were asked about how much they wanted to top-dog to lose (mean =5.35). There was no main effect of resources on how much participants wa nted each team to succeed in the game, F (1,115) = .46, p > .05. There was also no inte raction between framing and resources on how much participants wanted each team to fare in the game, F (1,115) = 0.72, p > .05.
37 Individuals high on social dominance orientat ion were expected to be less likely to favor underdogs. However, high social dom inance orientation scores did not correlate with lower support for the unde rdog relative to the top dog, r (119) = .007, p > .05. Discussion In the second experiment, an attempt wa s made to establis h whether the support extended to the underdog is really an emotiona l alignment with the disadvantaged side, or is driven more by opposition to the top dog, a phenomenon termed in the literature and philosophy as schadenfreude Framing the questions as e ither win (How much would you like each team to win?) or lose (How much w ould you like each team to lose?) yielded significantly more rooting for underdogs than rooting against top dogs. However, there was no influence of resources on the emotional reacti on of the participants to the two entities as was predicted by the stated hypothesis. The results are consistent with the th eory that underdog support is driven by sympathy for the disadvantaged rather than disdain for the advantaged. However, the greater degree of rooting for, rather than against teams may be confounded with social desirability biases. Specifically, participants may have curbed their responses, as it may be less acceptable to show opposition than to demonstrate support. Thus, the interplay between schadenfreude and underdog support requires furt her inquiry under a different research design, as described below.
38 Study 3: The Role of the Spoiler Study 3 tested schadenfreude versus underdog using a spoiler paradigm. In the world of sports (and politics), a spoiler is a team that ca nnot gain anything by winning a game (beyond the spirit of true sport), but can determine the fate of its adversarial top dog (e.g., preventing it from making the playoffs). Elevated levels of support for the underdog in this particular case ma y further lend credibility to the schadenfreude explanation. The hypothesis sugge sted that, in essence, partic ipants increase their level of support for the underdog in the spoiler setting. Note that if participants do particularly support underdogs when they play the role of spo iler, it would lend s upport to the idea that justice motivates the underdog effect, and it would argue against a simple utilitarian explanation (as expectations for success do not change). Method Participants. One hundred undergraduate students participated in the spoiler study. The sample included 63 females, 19 males and 18 w ho did not specify their gender. Students were recruited from large ps ychology undergraduate classes and the study was administered immediat ely following the lecture. Participants were awarded extra credit in exchange for their contribution in the study. Procedure. Participants read a brief scenario of an underdog versus a top dog high school sports rivalry and indicated their level of s upport for each team. In control versions of
39 the scenario, the contest was described as ha ving equal stakes for both teams (but not equal strength); in the experimental condition, the underdog was described as being a potential spoiler, in that the team was be able to eliminate its rival from the playoffs with a victory (see Appendix C for material s). Study 3 is, thus, a 2 (spoiler vs. no spoiler) by 2 (resource vs. no mention of res ources) between subject s design. It was predicted that this spoiler ma nipulation would not affect the degree to which participants root for the underdog, unless major resource disparities were made salient. When resources were made salient, it was predicted that participants woul d root more strongly for the underdog, compared to the non-spoiler condition. Results Which team do you think is going to win? 84 out of 100 participants thought that the team with the better history of success would win the upcoming match, 2 (1) = 46.24, p < .001. Who is the underdog? Not surprisingly, 80 out of 91 participants identified the team with the lesser record as the underdog, 2 (1) =52.32, p < .001. Which team would you like to win? Overall, the correlation between the particip ants ratings of how much they wanted each team to win (1-9 scale) was negative, r = -.60, p < .001. A 2 (underdog/top dog status) x 2 (spoiler vs. nonspoiler) x 2 (resources) mixed-model ANOVA was performed to test the prediction that people would favor an underdog over a t op dog; that favoritism would increase if the underdog played the role of spoiler and if resource disparities were made salient, but would not increase if they were not made salient. As predicted, there
40 was a significant main effect of underdog/ t op-dog status (within factor) on how much participants wanted each team to win: F (1,96) = 18.48, p < .001. Specifically, underdogs were supported significantly more (M = 6.4) than top dogs (M = 4.76). There were no significant main effects for underdog role (spoiler vs. non-spoiler, between factor) or resources (present or absent, between facto r). The predicted interaction between the support extended to each team and the scenario approached significance, F (1, 96) = 3.28, p = .073, but in a direction c ontrary to the hypothesis, su ch that underdog support (M = 6.78) diminished under a spoiler scenario (M = 6.02), while topdog support increased from a non-spoiler scenario (M=4.42) to a sp oiler scenario (M = 5.10; see Figure 1). Stated differently, being a s poiler did not boost the support for the underdog and, hence, support for schadenfreude was not evident. Which team would you root for? Across all conditions, 68% (68 out of 100) pa rticipants reported that they would root for the team w ith the lesser record, 2 (1) =12.96, p < .001. In the non-spoiler scenario 74% (37 out of 50) supported the underdog, 2 (1) = 11.5, p < .001. The support for the team with the lesser record diminished (31 out of 50, or 62%) and was no longer significant in the spoiler scenario, 2 (1) = 2.88, p = .09. Also, the addition of resources played a role in which team the participants supported: When resources were mentioned, 74% of the participants (40 out of 54) reported that they would root for the team with the lesser record, 2 (1) =12.52, p < .001. However, when resources were omitted, only 61% of the participants (28 out of 46) reported that they would root for the team with the lesser record, 2 (1) =2.17, p > .05.
01234567Support (liking to win) Spoiler ScenarioNon Spoiler scenarioSupport Extended to Underdo g s/ Top-do g s under Spoiler and Non-Spoiler scenarios Support for underdog Support for top-dog Figure 1. Support extended to underdogs/ top dogs under spoiler and non-spoiler scenarios, Study 3. Social dominance orientation. Individuals high on social dominance orientation were expected to be less likely to favor underdogs. Indeed, higher social dominance orientation scores correlated with lower support for the underdog relative to the top dog, r(100) = -.22, p = .032. This relationship was even stronger when resources were added to the vignette, r(54) = -.30, p = .027. 41
42 Discussion In order to investigate whether schadenfreude (rooting against th e top dog) was a driving force behind underdog support, the concept of a spoiler wa s introduced into the design. It was assumed that if the unde rdog was supported more when it could spoil (hence a spoiler) the future of the top dog but gain very little for itself by doing so, this would be evidence of schadenfreude Alternatively, if support for the underdog remained the same, whether or not it was a spoiler, then one could deduct that rooting against the top dog does not play a major role in the underdog phenomenon. As was the case in all previous experiments, underdogs were supported significantly more than top dogs, regardless of resources being mentioned or not and the presence or absence of a spoiler scenario. It was predicted th at underdog support would be affected by the mentioning of a resource disparity. More specifically, if resources disparities were made salient under the s poiler scenario, rooting against the top dog would increase, but if they were not men tioned, then only rooting for the underdog would increase. However, in the spoiler cond ition the support for the underdog diminished while the support for the top-dog increased regardless of whether resources were mentioned or not, contrary to the schadenfreude hypothesis. It appear s that when the top dog is about to lose something of real value, participants are less inclined to support its lesser adversary. Social dominance orientation also correla ted with the tendency to support the underdog, as predicted. Note, howev er, that this relationship failed to emerge in the other studies, so this result sh ould be taken with caution.
43 Study 4: Attentional Focus While Observing a Competition Although Study 2 provided evidence for peoples underlying motivations, one could yet not rule out the possibility that differences in extremity of responses across framing conditions resulted from social desirability concerns (that is, people may in fact respond more extremely to win frames than lose frames because it may seem meanspirited to desire someones defeat). St udy 3 helped minimize this concern, as people may have felt fairly comfortable rooting fo r underdogs who were considered spoilers. Still, social desirability concerns may temper self-reported support for underdogs (or against top dogs). Consequently, Study 4 wa s designed in an attempt to bypass social desirability concerns in schadenfreude versus underdog phenomena by testing memory for events in additi on to support tendencies. Method Participants One hundred and thirty three undergraduate st udents participated in the attentional focus study. The sample included 96 females (72.2%), 31 males (23.3%) and 6 who did not specify their gender (4.5%). Students were recruited through an online departmental recruiting site (experimentrak). Participan ts were awarded extra cred it in exchange for their contribution in the study.
44 Procedure. Participants read a short vignette desc ribing the history of two European pro basketball teams rivalry, w ith an underdog and a top dog (t he team described as the underdog was counterbalanced across participants). The two teams were described as competing in an important upcoming championship game. After reading about the background rivalry between the tw o team, participants were as ked to report which team they supported and which team was the unde rdog (see Appendix D for materials). Immediately following this, they watched a short video clip of the supposed game between the two teams. At the conclusion of the 10-minute clip, the participants were asked to recall names, uniform colors and the country/ city the teams represented. Additionally, following the free recall stage, the participants were asked to recognize them out of a list (f orced choice). Thes e recall and recognition measures (see Appendix D for materials) were used to explore whethe r the participants focused their attention on either the underdog or top dog, which served as an implicit measure of the underdog effect. Study 4 is, thus, a 2 (t op dog versus underdog, counterbalanced ) by 2 (resources versus no mention of resources) mixed subjects design. It was predicted that par ticipants would attend more closely to the underdog (i.e., remember more details about the underdog te am) when no resources were mentioned; however, similar to Study 1, when a disparity in resources became apparent, participants were expected to shift their focus of a ttention from the under dog to the top dog, as schadenfreude became a driving emotion.
45 Results Before watching the video clip, participan ts read a vignette aimed to prime them to the underdog/top dog nature of the two competing basketball teams. They then completed a brief pre-video questionnaire. Immediately after watching the clip, the participants answered a second memory quest ionnaire. 8 out of 133 participants were excluded from the analysis, because they incorrectly identified the top dog as the underdog, immediately following reading the introductory vignette (i.e., failed the manipulation check). Pre-video underdog support Prior to watching the game, 103 out of 125 individuals (82 %) thought that the top dog would win the game, 2 (1) = 52.76, p < .001. Which team would you like to win? Taking the previous history of success in to account, the aver age support for the underdog was 6.85 while the average support for the top dog was 3.83. A 2 (underdog/top dog status) x 2 (resources) mixed-model ANOVA was performed. Three was a main effect for support, F (1, 123) = 78.42, p < .001. There was no main effect for resources, F (1, 123) = .30, p > .05. There was also no interaction of support and resources, contrary to the initial hypothesis, F (1, 123) = .18, p > .05. Which team would you root for? Ninety out of 125 (72 %) participants reported that, not knowing anything else, they would probably root for the underdog, 2 (1) = 24.07, p < .001.
46 Memory (post video watching): Recall. Initially there were 4 separate recall questions. The fourth item (What numbers of jerseys do you recall?) was eliminated because most participants mentioned the number without specifying to which team it belonged to. Th e three other questions were combined together into an aggregate reca ll variable, to have a sufficient range of responses (there were 3, 2, and 16 possible it ems for questions 1, 2 and 3 respectively) to avoid ceiling or floor effects. First, a paired sample t -tests were conducted to assess if information about either of the teams was recalled significantly better, regardless of underdog/top dog status. The analyses revealed that partic ipants recalled significantly more information about Maccabi Tel-Aviv (the local team, M = 4.12) than CSKA Moscow (M = 3.7), t (124) = 3.43, p = .001. However, using a paired sample t -test, the number of recalled items for the underdog (M = 3.98) did not differ significantly from the top dog (M = 3.85), t (124) = 1.01, p > .05. The addition of the resources component did not yield an interaction, F (1, 123) = .19, p > .05, nor did it produce a main effect, F (1, 123) = .61, p > .05. Memory (post video watching): Recognition There was a significant difference in r ecognition of players between the two teams, with Maccabi (the home team) players being recognized more (M = 70%) than CSKA players (M = 60%), t (122) = 5.42, p < .001. Taking into account the underdog/top dog manipulation, participants recognition wa s significantly better than chance both when they were asked about the underdog (M = 65%, (t (122) = 8.88, p < .01) and when inquired about the top dog (M = 66%, t (123) = 9.37, p < .01). However, based on the results of a paired t -test results, there was no diff erence in the recognition for the
47 underdog as opposed to the top dog, t (121) = -.52, p > .05. The addition of resources to the analysis produced a significant interaction ( F (1, 120) = 4.07, p = .046) but in the direction contrary to the hypot hesis: As shown in Figure 2, there was a bette r recognition for players of the stated underdog (66%) than the top-dog (63 %) under the resourcesmentioned condition, while the reverse was det ected when resources were not mentioned (63% underdog recognition vs. 68% top dog recognition). In the jersey numbers recognition ta sk, there was no significant difference between the two teams (without under/top dog manipulation), t (122)= -1.12, p > .05. Participants were able to remember signifi cantly better than chan ce only for the top dog condition (M = 58%), t (122) = 4.56, p < .001, while their rec ognition was no different from chance when they were asked about the underdog (M = 52%), t (122) = 1.08, p = .282. This difference (Mean Diffe rence = .06) was significant, t (122) = 2.31, p = .02. The addition of resources did not ch ange this trend as was hypothesized, F (1, 121) = .002, p > .05. When asked to recognize the final score (after watching the clip) out of a four choice options, 110 out of 124 participants (89%) recogn ized the correct score, 2 (3) = 268.58, p < .001. Due to the high correct response ra te, the inclusion of resources exerted no influence over recognition. Exploratory analyses about attri butions for performance. In addition to the memory data, an atte mpt was made also to assess whether the support for the underdog was influenced by attr ibutions of superior effort compensating, supposedly, for lack of talent. Participants were questioned about hus tle, heart and effort as opposed to natural ability and on-court in telligence of each team. Underdogs were
perceived to exert significantly more effort (aggregating hustle, heart, and effort questions) (M=4.39 out of 5) than top dogs (M=4.01, t(75) = 3.57, p < .05). However, top-dogs (M=4.03) were judged to possess significantly more ability (aggregating natural ability and on-court intelligence) than underdogs (M=3.74), t(75) = -2.93, p < .05. The addition of resource disparity had a main effect so that both teams were judged to be trying harder, F (1, 74) = 6.86, p < .05. 606162636465666768% correctly recognized Resources not mentionedResources mentionedPercentage of Recognition of Underdog/ Top-dog players when Resources are present and not Underdog Top-dog Figure 2. Percentage of recognition of underdog/top dog players when resources are present or not, Study 4. 48
49 Discussion The last study, which focused on underdog support vs. schadenfreude shifted the inquiry from direct responses of how much the participants aligned themselves with either of the parties involved to the more basic question of how mu ch information they remembered about each team. The basic prem ise was that if participants remembered more details about one of the two entities, then their focus of attenti on should lead us to a better understanding of the underlying drivi ng forces, such that if participants remembered more about the underdog, they were in essence rooting for it and alternatively, if they remembered more a bout the top dog, they were focused on rooting against it. Also, by focusing on memory, it was believed that social desirability concerns would be circumvented. The predictions st ated that memory for the underdog would be superior overall, but that this course would be reversed when resources disparity was made salient, thus shifting participants lo cus of attention to the top dog and possibly signifying a shift to schadenfreude. Overall, memory results were weak. In the free recall test, there were no differences as to how much participants reme mbered about the two teams. In the first recognition task participants were asked to identify names of players from each team. There was, again, no difference between memory shown to either underdogs or top dogs (recognition overall was signi ficantly better than chance). However, there was an interaction between disparity of resources and underdog status such that better memory towards the top dog was exhibited when re sources were not present while better recognition for the underdog was demonstrated when resource disparity was mentioned. In the second recognition task participants were asked to assign a player to a jersey
50 number out of two possible opt ions. Recognition for the to p dog was significantly better than for the underdog which was, in turn, no different from chance. This better recognition was demonstrated regardless of disparity of resources. This finding is valuable as it may signify participants focu s of attention in a task over which they had the least conscious control (indeed many of th em reported to the researchers that they were merely guessing as they had no clea r recollection of any jersey number). In addition, an exploratory examination as to the attributions people make about performance demonstrated that participants attributed more effort to the underdog and more natural ability to the top dog. Th is phenomenon of selective attribution style was also demonstrated by Stone, Perry and Darl ey (1997) who had participants listen to a short segment of basketball game on the radio a nd led them to believe that the player they were following was either black or white. The participants made their attributions according to race: If they thought the target wa s an African-American, they attributed his performance to natural ability, but if they thought the player to be white, they attributed his performance to hustle and hard work. It is important to note that the participants recalled a similar amount of obj ective information about the pl ayer (i.e., points, assists, rebounds, etc.) regardless of the race to wh ich they thought he belonged. Wann et al. (2002) demonstrated that par ticipants tended to like athl etes whose performance they deemed largely to be the result of hard wo rk, as opposed to naturally talented athletes. This suggests that one possible reason as to why underdogs are supported is because it is believed that they try harder than those with more ability.
51 General Discussion Overall, across all four experiments strong evidence was found for the support extended to underdogs in comparison to top dogs. Whenever an entity was clearly marked as an inferior to its adversary, the participants demonstrated their liking for the former to overcome its mightier adversar y. In conditions where there was some inconsistency in the nature of the disparity (e.g., fewer resour ces but higher expectations), resources (money in this case) seemed to have a stronger influe nce on support than did mere expectations for performance. This finding is important because it sheds light on the motivations behind underdog support. It appears that the participants may be mo tivated to believe the world is a just place (Lerner, 1975, 1977) by supporting the weaker entity. The most telling are, of course, scenarios in which disparitie s in expectations do not match disparities in resources. Skitka and Tetlocks (1992) cont ingency model of resour ce distribution seems relevant here. They propose that after an allocator of resources makes a determination that a situation of insufficiency exists, she or he turns to attributional analysis. The question then is: are the claimants personally re sponsible for their predicament or not? In our case, participants need to make up th eir minds whom to support in a competition. Though one team is in a definite disadvantageous position when it comes to its expectations to win, the part icipant, based on resource ava ilability, can assess whether it had been negligent in managing its affairs (i.e., personally respons ible according to the model) or just unfortunate. It appears that case in the non-matching scenarios the former
52 (i.e., personal negligence/respon sibility) is presumed and, as a result, the support is taken away and the underdog status becomes less obvious. The justice at the core of underdog support is both interesting and consistent with the present results, but does not comple tely rule out other motivations such as a utilitarian motivation. From this perspectiv e, the choice of parties for whom to root follows a cold, rational calculation as to wh ich party would provide the biggest positive emotional payoff. This calculation is de termined by expectation for success and predicted emotional payoff, if successful. If the underdog concept is based on exp ectations, non-partisan observers have little to lose by supporting the underdog. Losing is expected and thus does not carry any significant adverse implications, whereas winni ng could carry favorable consequences by its mere unexpectedness. On the other hand, if support is extended to the top dog, people stand to lose more. Winning is expected and thus bears smaller positive emotional benefits, while losing, because of its unexpectedness, could be devastating. Although if this was the underlying motivation, one should not have observed the marked shift in support and underdog designation in the non-matc hing scenarios as expectations did not change. In this regard, the spoiler study also makes an important contribution. The results of this study were such that participants did not show an incr ease of support towards underdogs when they assumed the position of s poilers. If they had done so, one could have argued for support for the utilitarian motivati on, as the stakes are now higher for the top dog (its future is on the line) though the expectations are much the same. Thus, two
53 indirect measures in support of the soci al fairness argument over the utilitarian motivation were obtained. One qualification for the underdog phenom enon is the politics domain, in which the phenomenon was not evident. It may perfec tly be the case that when participants deem the situation relevant-proximal (voting in an election) and exerting a subjectively important and somewhat influential role, they avoid showing these te ndencies. In other words, a tenured professor, for example, wi ll be less likely to favor the hiring of an underdog as an assistant professor over a t op dog at a neighboring university because of the indirect influence this hiring will have ove r her in the future. This distinction needs further study as the underdog support was exhib ited not only in sports, which is a rather natural domain in which the observers exert almost no influence over the score (unless one believes that rooting hard makes a real difference), but also in the business domain where shoppers spend their money and by doing so influence the viabil ity of commercial entities. The second focus of the study was to id entify if the underdog phenomenon is driven by support for the disadvantaged or in essence represents a mirror image of it: rooting against the top dog ( schadenfreude). Here the findings are less consistent and open to more than one interpretation. In the second study questions were frame d about how much participants wanted the underdog to win, compared to how much th ey wanted a top dog to lose. This design was intended to overcome the high negative correlations between the support that participants extend to two en tities in a direct competiti on, which suggest a possible nonindependence of responses (i.e ., one cannot support one entity without rooting against the
54 other). It was found that participants were more extreme in supporting the underdog than rooting against the top dog, providing no evidence for schadenfreude. This finding, however, did not provide conclusive evidence that sympathy for underdogs is the primary driving force behind their support, because pa rticipants might have felt pressure to respond in a socially desirable way (i.e., it ma y be seen as impolite or rude to report desiring to see someone lose). In a second attempt to distinguish betw een motivations to root for underdogs versus root against top dogs, the concept of the spoiler was introduced. It was defined as an entity in a lesser position, able to adversely affect the future of the top dog but gain nothing for itself by doing so except for the mere pleasure of winning. In the spoiler experiment, if participants showed signifi cantly more support for an underdog who was a spoiler, one could assume that this added support, all else being equal, is driven by schadenfreude. However, there was no increase d support for underdogs under spoiler conditions, and in fact, if any, ther e was a tendency to support underdogs less when they played the spoiler role. In the fourth and last experiment, participants read a vignette about an underdog scenario and then watched a basketball game depicting the two teams they read about. It wa s hypothesized that if part icipants were driven by schadenfreude, they would focus their attention (and thus their memory) on the advantaged team particularly when resource disparities were ma de salient. However, participants did not differ in their recall memory of the underdog an d the top dog. They also did not differ in the first and easier recognition task (detecting a name of a player who took part in the game from a bogus one).
55 Nevertheless differences were found in th e third and most di fficult recognition task (where participants were asked to attach a player name to the correct jersey number out of two possible options), showing a ma rkedly better memory towards the top dog than the underdog. However, there was no inte raction with the pres ence or absence of resources, as predicted. Overall, across the studies, there was little evidence that schadenfreude motivated people in these scenario s to support underdogs. Conversely, another mechanism, which may have medi ated the underdog and support relationship, was established: The participants perceived the underdog team to exert significantly more effort and spirit than its s uperior counterpart, which was seen as more talented. Limitations This attempt to explore the underdog phenomenon was limited in a few respects. The first limitation is related to ecological va lidity: Even though a consistent effort was made to create realistic newspaper articles a nd to present the participants with a real basketball clip, the realism fact or might have been rather di minished compared to actual life situations where there can be real em otional stakes for supporting an entity, and emotional gravity is sometimes reinforced by social interactions Secondly, social desirability, as manifested in more expressing approval to being in favor of something rather than against, might have served as another possible limitation to the current investigation. Although, one can argue that soci al desirability may not play a major role in the world of sports where fans are ofte n not shy about making their hatred against power-house teams such as the Yank ees and the Lakers well known.
56 Another possible methodological limitati on is the apparent dependence of judgments participants are making when they are called to assess two competing entities. The current investigation assumed that there are two distinct forces at work here: underdog support and schadenfreude which pull in the same di rection and thus are hard to distinguish from one another. Contrary to this idea, one can make the argument that these are interchangeable forces, which repres ent the same phenomenon, and by trying to separate them, we actually created an epiphe nomenon rather than sort it out. Although, a counterargument can be made on both research and philosophical grounds, as the s chadenfreude phenomenon is well documented in rese arch (Ceci & Kain, 1982; Feather, 1991; Feather & Sherman, 2002) to be discounted as an epiphenomenon. A more specific limitation is associated with the spoiler experiment only. The vignette for this experiment did not include a ny description of indirect benefits of the spoiler scenario, had the underdog succeeded. In reality, people usually have information about other entities besides the spoiler and it s adversary, and these th ird party entities are invariably affected by the outcome of the c ontest. In our case, it may have caused our participants to shy away from supporting the spoiler as it seem ed like a waste of resources (the top dog doesnt qualify for the playoffs, the underdog also does not qualify) as opposed to a non-s poiler scenario (the top dog qualifies, the underdog does not). Finally, another limitation was of sp ecial concern for the memory study. Specifically, the clip at hand appeared to be skewed towards the home team (based on the participants better memory performance for the home team, regardless of the
57 experimental manipulation). Thus, future st udies should assure that there are no memory biases indebted (e.g., a neutral groun d game might be preferable). Future Directions As the underdog support seems to be a robust phenomenon exhibited by the majority of the participants but not all, it may be worthwhile to explore individual differences in this regard. Although the e ffort to link the underdog phenomenon to social dominance orientation failed, it might be worthwhile pursuing this line of investigation with other variables, such as demographic ch aracteristics (e.g., soci al class, earnings), political leanings, or other personality variab les (e.g., attribution style). Feather (1991), for instance, was able to establish th at rooting against tall poppies (i.e., schadenfreude) was associated with low global self-esteem and low perceived self-competence among high school students. Another potential avenue of explorati on for the future is the cultural or international arena. Past research ab out underdogs (Ceci & Kain, 1982; Frazier & Snyder, 1991) was conducted when the US wa s not the lone superpower in terms of political sphere of influence, army buil dup and economic power (before the complete dissemination of the Communist Block). Being the paragon top dog nowadays may immune the US citizen to the underdog phenome non or at least attenua te its effects (the effect sizes we were detec ting were below those of Fraz ier & Snyder who explored the underdog phenomenon in the similar domain of sports with the same college age population in 1991). Thus, it seems warrant ed to explore the magnitude of the phenomenon in a larger geo-political context, across different countries, and to tie it with
58 various external objective measures such as GDP, national debt, or relative size in comparison to neighboring countries. All in all, underdog research seems to hold a significant potential for further investigation at many levels. The intuitive appeal that pe ople feel towards underdogs and the basic repulsion in being in a disadvantageous position leaves fertile ground for further research, or as the former Bucs coach, th e late John Mckay, put it: Underdog, overdog, hotdog. I guess you want to be an underdog but an underdog with the best team!.
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66 Appendix A: Study 1 Materials 1. General instructions for vignettes 67 2. Sports Core Scenarios I. Unequal competition, no resources mentioned 68 II. Unequal competition plus resources matching status 69 III. Unequal competition plus resources not matching status 70 IV. Only resources mentioned 71 3. Sports Domain Vignettes I. Unequal competition, no resources mentioned 72 II. Unequal competition plus resources matching status 73 III. Unequal competition plus resources not matching status 74 IV. Only resources mentioned 75 V. Sports Questionnaire Outcome Measure 76 4. Business Vignette and Questionnaire 77 5. Political Vignette and Questionnaire 79 6. Social Dominance Questionnaire (for all six vignette conditions) 81
67 Appendix A (Continued) A SOCIAL COMPETITION SCENARIO This questionnaire explores peoples attit udes and beliefs about competitions. On the following pages, you will read a short news story. After reading the article, you will be asked a number of questions pertaining to the nature of the competition and your feelings about it. There are no right or wrong answers he re; we are simply interested in peoples opinions. Feel free to read the article as many times as you wish when answering the questions. Please turn the page to begin the questionnaire.
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81 Appendix A (Continued) Below are a series of statements with whic h you may either agree or disagree. For each statement, please indicate the degree of your agreement/disagreement by writing the appropriate number from 1 to 7 in the blanks beside the questions. Remember that your first responses are usually the most accurate. Strongly Slightly Neither Agree Slightly Strongly Disagree Disagree Disagree nor Disagree Agree Agree Agree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ___ 1. Some groups of people are simply inferior to other groups. ___ 2. In getting what you want, it is someti mes necessary to use force against other groups. ___ 3. Its OK if some groups have more of a chance in life than others. ___ 4. To get ahead in life, it is sometimes necessary to step on other groups. ___ 5. If certain groups stayed in their place, we would have fewer problems. ___ 6. Its probably a good thing that certain groups are at the top a nd other groups are at the bottom. ___ 7. Inferior groups should stay in their place. ___ 8. Sometimes other groups must be kept in their place. ___ 9. It would be good if groups could be equal. ___ 10. Group equality should be our ideal. ___ 11. All groups should be given an equal chance in life. ___ 12. We should do what we can to e qualize conditions for different groups. ___ 13. We would have fewer problems if we treated people more equally. ___ 14. We should strive to make incomes as equal as possible. ___ 15. No one group should dominate in society.
82 Appendix B: Study 2 Materials 1. General instruct ions for vignettes 83 2. Sports Domain Vignettes: Framing I. Unequal competition no resources mentioned 84 II. Unequal competition plus resources matching status 85 III. Win Framing Questionnaire 86 IV. Lose Framing Questionnaire 87
83 Appendix B (Continued) A SOCIAL COMPETITION SCENARIO This questionnaire explores peoples attit udes and beliefs about competitions. On the following pages, you will read a short news story. After reading the article, you will be asked a number of questions pertaining to the nature of the competition and your feelings about it. There are no right or wrong answers he re; we are simply interested in peoples opinions. Feel free to read the article as many times as you wish when answering the questions. Please turn the page to begin the questionnaire.
Appendix B (Continued) 84
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86 Appendix B (Continued) Gender: M F Based on the article you just read, we are interested in capturing your thoughts about the two teams and the game they are about to play. Feel free to read the scenario as many times as you wish, when answering the following questions: 1. How much would you like Oak Ridge to win the game? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Not at all Mildly Very much 2. How much would you like Clinton to win the game? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Not at all Mildly Very much
87 Appendix B (Continued) Gender: M F Based on the article you just read, we are interested in capturing your thoughts about the two teams and the game they are about to play. Feel free to read the scenario as many times as you wish, when answering the following questions: 1. How much would you like Oa k Ridge to lose the game? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Not at all Mildly Very much 2. How much would you like Clinton to lose the game? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Not at all Mildly Very much
88 Appendix C: Study 3 Materials 1. General instructions for vignettes 89 2. Spoiler Sports Vignettes I. No spoiler, no resources mentioned 90 II. Spoiler, no resources mentioned 91 III. Spoiler plus resources matching status 92 IV. No spoiler plus resources matching status 93 3. Sports Questionnaire Outcome Measure 94
89 Appendix C (Continued) A SOCIAL COMPETITION SCENARIO This questionnaire explores peoples attit udes and beliefs about competitions. On the following pages, you will read a short news story. After reading the article, you will be asked a number of questions pertaining to the nature of the competition and your feelings about it. There are no right or wrong answers he re; we are simply interested in peoples opinions. Feel free to read the article as many times as you wish when answering the questions. Please turn the page to begin the questionnaire.
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95 Appendix D: Study 4 Materials 1. Memory Vignettes I. Unequal competition, no resources mentioned 96 II. Unequal competition plus resources matching status 97 III. Pre-video watching underdog questionnaire 98 IV. Recall/Recognition Questionnaire 99 V. Attributions Questionnaire 102
Appendix D (Continued) 96
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102 Appendix D (Continued) For this next section, we are interested on why you believe each team performed as it did. Please answer the following questions about each team. First, consider the Maccabi Tel Aviv team (in the yellow jerseys).Think about the performance of this team as a whole when you answer the following questions: 1. How much hustle did Maccabi Tel Aviv show? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal 2. How much natural ability did this team have? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal 3. How much effort did this team put forth? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal 4. How much heart did this team show? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal 5. How much intelligence did this team show? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal Now, consider the CSKA Moscow team (in the red jerseys). Please answer the same questions as before. Think about the perfor mance of this team as a whole when you answer the following questions: 1. How much hustle did CSKA Moscow show? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal 2. How much natural ability did this team have? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal 3. How much effort did this team put forth? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal
103 4. How much heart did this team show? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal 5. How much intelligence did this team show? 1 2 3 4 5 None at all A little Some Quite a bit A great deal