Winning feels good

Scientists at Cornell University and the European University Institute have confirmed what fans of National Football Leagues team have known for a long time:

When your team wins, the worst officiating doesn’t look so bad.

“…Winners were generally more likely to believe that the game was fair, even when the playing field was most heavily tilted in their favor,” they reported at Science Advances last week. “In short, it’s not just how the game is played, it’s also whether you win or lose.”

The scientists weren’t, however, looking at sport. They were trying to determine how people view economic inequality.

Plenty of studies have been done over the years on human perceptions of “fairness” as it pertains to economic and social success, as Cornell’s Mario Molina and colleagues noted, but most were based on observational studies of people with their associated issues: “biased perceptions of personal experience and ideologically motivated partisan narratives.”

To eliminate those influences, the researchers set up a simple card game – “the Swap Game,” they called it – that eliminated skill and decided winners and losers purely by luck and the researcher’s manipulation of opportunity.

“Removing dependence on skill is necessary to rule out the possibility that a participant’s attribution to skill has a basis in fact,” they wrote, because almost all winners have a tendency to believe victory was mainly a factor of their skill and not luck.

“The experiment tests whether participants will attribute unequal outcomes to differences in skill even in a contest in which skill plays little or no role,” the researchers wrote. “Instead of skill, the game is heavily dependent on the effects of luck and the rules of exchange.”

Any serious NFL fan would find the results of the Swap Game pretty predictable:

“Winners were more likely than losers to attribute unequal outcomes to talent instead of luck, to see the outcomes as fair, and to express personal satisfaction.”

When the researchers titled the card game far enough, however, even the winners began to recognize that they weren’t winning fair and square.

“This result is consistent with other studies showing that higher inequality triggers concerns about equal opportunities,” the authors wrote, “and suggests that perceptions of fairness are not entirely motivated by self-interest or by a need to rationalize or justify success and failure. Winners appear to be especially sensitive to regressive redistribution in their perceptions of fairness, reminiscent of repeated calls by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates for higher taxes on the wealthy to level the playing field.”

Still, the authors warned against public policy changes based on the results of their study.

“First, the redistribution of opportunity through the exchange of high or low cards likely violates implicit norms that games should be played on a level playing field,” they wrote. “Further research is needed to test whether these norms extend to real-world economic competition outside the context of a parlor game.”

Beyond that, they wrote, the study asked “about ‘your results’ rather than ‘the’ results of the game, thereby focusing attention on personal loss or gain, without taking into account the fate of the partner.

“These differences notwithstanding, the findings have two potentially important –  and contradictory – implications for public support for policies to equalize opportunity, such as affirmative action, investments in early childhood education, and job training. In real-life situations, unequal opportunities often operate in inconspicuous ways.”

One was that those tested generally believed in the idea of equal opportunities. The other was that they were willing to tolerate certain inequalities if they were winning.

When the game was tilted in a way that became blatantly obvious, the researchers concluded, “both winners and losers became increasingly likely to see unequal outcomes as unfair and unjustified by differences in talent, whether the rules were regressive or progressive. In the regressive condition, the responses of winners indicate opposition to excessively unequal opportunity, although they are the ones who benefit (the Warren Buffet effect). In the progressive condition, the responses of losers indicate opposition to excessively redistributive interventions, although they are the ones with the most to gain.”

The results would indicate there was some innate sense of “fairness” as a personal value in those tested in the study.

“The typical participant was about 35 years old and has a political orientation slightly to the left. The distribution of participants in terms of gender and income is fairly balanced. But this is not observed with race, religion, and education. Most of our participants were white, did not identify with any religion, and were highly educated,” a supplement to the study noted.

At least within this demographic group, the authors concluded, “responses to unequal opportunity depend on how far the playing field is tilted more than on who benefits from the tilt.

But in most cases, “winners were more likely than losers to see outcomes as attributable to talent, although talent played no role in the game, and across all conditions…winners were more likely than losers to regard unequal outcomes as fair. Winners were also more likely to express personal satisfaction with the outcomes, even when they perceived the game as unfair and unrelated to talent.

“In short, beliefs about inequality and fairness seem to reflect ‘how the game is played’ when the rules go too far, but otherwise, what matters most is ‘whether you win or lose.'”

See Los Angeles v. New Orleans in the 2018 NFC Championship Game. 








22 replies »

  1. “Colin Kaepernick has been effectively banned from the NFL because of his peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the United States…
    And it’s no accident that it’s happening under the Trump administration.
    In fact, it seems to be happening as a direct result of teams being terrified of what President Donald Trump and their ultra conservative fans might say if they signed Kaepernick.”
    (The Intercept)
    “When Mussolini took the power in Italy, one of his priorities was the education of the country’s youth according to Fascist ideals.
    Sports constituted the ground through which the young Italians would be able to take the physical and political education. By this way Italy was able to produce great athletes who will achieve great sport successes for the nation and Fascism…
    The creation of new Fascist society started from the city of Bologna that was the center of sport events.”

    • Colin was foolish. Bite the hand that brought you up ???? The nation and its founders that sacrificed so we can have a template for freedom. The American flag , national anthem and Football has nothing to do with police brutality. Don’t spoil the game and piss on America. Football is a team sport that’s its beauty . Colin is a divider not a Uniter that’s why teams don’t want him . He effects the economics of football and disrespects what football is about. Teamwork and sacrifice. Not about me- (Colin kapernick) I’m against police brutality 110% Colin should have showed his heroism on the field and protested on his own time . Everyone would have listened if had some rings on his fingers and prooved on the field he was a team player willing to leave it all on the field and bring his teammates to greatness. Instead he has worked to give racism a platform sinking his sport , dishonoring his country and muddying his very important message. Police brutality is not about racism it’s about bad bad police policy and training that puts citizens and officers into harmful antognist situation. Whoever calls police brutality racism has drank the cool aide and is unknowly pushing agenda of people who want citizens divided. Certain White officers abuse anyone. Certain Officers of color abuse anyone. It’s not about racism it’s about bad training , policy and justice corruption. It needs fixed immediately but not turned into a racial issue. It needs changed on the admistrative level but not by offending over half the nation making it about country honor. I have known officers of all shades of color many so nice it’s unbelievable. Policy and training is the problem combined with a lack of focus on citizens mental health and loss of compassion in the law enforcement culture. I have known officers so kind and effective at their job it is inconceivable. My brother quit the force due to culture of violence against the accused. He was top trooper graduating out of Sitka for his class . None of the violence had to due with race . – most involved were white . He was pushed hard to be violent in his approach when in reality most people need mental help or at least a compassionate approach and to get the help they need to make everyone’s lives better. Don’t let yourselves be divided by false flag racism. Come together!

      • Opinion,
        I wonder if you even know the origins of modern football in America?
        Do you know of the great athlete Jim Thorpe of which many consider the “father” of American football…
        “In 1913, Thorpe signed with the New York Giants, and he played six seasons in Major League Baseball between 1913 and 1919. Thorpe joined the Canton Bulldogs American football team in 1915, helping them win three professional championships; he later played for six teams in the National Football League (NFL).” (Wikipedia)
        Do you know that as a child Jim Thorpe was separated from his people in Oklahoma and placed into an Indian “Boarding School” in Carlisle, PA? One of the first such “institutions” across America.
        There the children were stripped of their clothes and given new clothes to wear while their heads were shaved and the “gridiron” was developed out back…Football and boxing were to replace hunting and fishing for these adolescents who were permanently displaced from family.
        It seems “Assimilation” of the minority races into the majority’s culture in America is always the impetuses for peaceful protest, of which this is exactly what Kaepernick has done?
        You (Opinion) are obviously oblivious to what young members of color endure through the hands of police (government) agents in the cities across America.
        Just think, If a cop can publicly state that a member of Congress “needs a round”, then what actually happens on the streets to minorities who “disobey” authority?
        “Charlie Rispoli, a 14-year veteran of the Gretna Police Department on Thursday called the Democratic lawmaker a “vile idiot” who “needs a round, and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” ( reported.)
        Almost 1,000 people a year are currently shot and killed by police across America and Kaepernick was just trying to open up people’s eyes and for this he is ultimately being punished as we see another rise in history to the “strong man” political leaders just like in the 1930’s across Europe.
        History repeats itself and obviously we all know where this is going to lead…

      • Steve I simpathize with your cause more than you will understand. Problem is you do it no justice by focusing on race . It wasn’t race that caused a trooper to injure my back causing me to be a partial cripple . It was simply because he was a plain a hole using unnecessary force and abuse of his power. Allowed by policy . You do America a disservice by raising the race card . The a hole who threatened Cortez did it because he has a mental problem. It had nothing to do with race and you know that and do a disservice to your cause by twisting it to meet your narrative. As to Thorpe and football I know his history well as I grew up reading stories about him . He is a true legend. An American who perseveres irregardless of circumstances . A hero and epitome of what makes America great. As to me being clueless to what young people of color endure you are mistaken. To make such an assumption does not help you understand my position. I have Native American family members black family members and white family members . Close Relatives who died fighting Hitler and close family who led northern armies who fought to free the slaves . Also colored and white Family that lives in the south coming in contact with bigots every day . What I see as the way out of our racial divisions is to come together and work together as one . To let bygones be bygones and focus on a better future. It’s foolish to not unite . All lives matter. Police brutality is crime against all citizens and a dishonor to the pretense our nation was founded. Innocent until proven guilty, of the people by the people for the people . All people.

      • Opinion,
        I am sorry to hear of your personal injury from an encounter with LE agents…several of my friends have endured similar experiences. For this reason you should stand in solidarity with folks like Colin since his message was much larger than just race. With that said race is and always has been the greatest barrier for our society to overcome. This is apparent with Trump’s latest comments to the “Squad” in Congress…no matter how we feel on one’s message…we should not deny them the right to bring their message to the public in a peaceful light.
        Jim Thorpe was also discriminated upon when his two Olympic Gold Medals were taken from him after the 1912 Olympics.
        The recent tales of racism around this country are dangerous as we are also seeing a rise in far right leaders across the Nation.
        “The Philadelphia police department announced on Thursday that 13 officers will be fired for social media posts that advocated violence and included racist, misogynistic, and homophobic remarks about African Americans, Muslim Americans, and other groups. Seventy-two officers in the department were also put on administrative duty over the posts.” (VOX)

      • Steve, I am not naive or oblivious.. I can tell you first hand the thugs whom the cops have to deal with from our inner cities. The most worthless and worst of mankind. For you to single out the police is rather naive to put it mildly and disingenuous.
        “You (Opinion) are obviously oblivious to what young members of color endure through the hands of police (government) agents in the cities across America.”

      • Steve I dislike going down your rabbit hole of thinking about ethics . First so you understand I Stand with Colin’s quest to bring light to police brutality and the changes needed through protest . The problem is his method. He tarnished his goal by bringing race and Americans honors into it while being careless about his team his sport and his country. He should have kept it pure and on his own time . Not by creating a negative national narrative. Second your mention of pa police department being heavily disciplined and fired for their posts . I do not agree that is correct line of action. The right to free speech is protected irregardless of what is said . Unless your are being a traitor and passing on state secrets ect. Then it’s a gray area. Free speach is a major foundation of our nation. Penalizing free speech creates a corundum. The end does not justify the means – two wrongs does not make a right . Eventually the Supreme Court would rule those firings unconstitutional. Especially as there was no convictions in court of law . We don’t even know if the people being penalized made all the posts . People write on others Facebook all the time . So this unconstitutional unconvicted penalty action was not a good path to take in my opinion. Now I’m not saying those posts were a good thing to do . They sound not good . The problem is in a law based society we can’t punish without it being backable by our primary law of the land and ability to get a conviction in court. As to racism and general bigeted intolerance rising ,that’s a narrative certain people want push . That does not make it true that it is happening but it does make for selling papers . As well as something to try and attack trump with . Total nonsense made up propaganda being used as smear tactic that would not hold up in court of law . I would argue intolerance is less or the same than before. It’s just become more visible now due to intolerance of bigotry. A good thing. Weaponizing it for political attacks is not a good thing by either side . It’s uncivilized. I respect your quest though ,I do not agree with your opinions. Thankfully opinions change over time .

      • Steve a person needs to remember United we stand divided we fall . Respect for social cohesion is important. Pushing the mindset of everyone working together in same boat for similar eventual goals is beneficial for society. Working hard to highlight racial division is a dangerous angle to take . My opinion is to highlight where people have come together to succeed irregardless of race or circumstances. I suggest you read about Mathew Hensen and his incredible trip to the pole from childhood to death . He overcame the worst circumstances imaginable. A truly inspiring book . Though tough and sad at times . Mathew persevered and bridged racial gaps through respect for abilities and team work versus color . He was an amazing man and triumphed against all odds with the friendship and brotherhood of several white men despite hateful despicable attitudes of the era . Title escapes me .

      • Opinion,
        I have no cause here to defend other than the truth.
        There are many voices trying to show how racism is growing in America.
        My point was to show how Colin was punished for peaceful protest…that should fit into your paradigm for “free speech”.
        “People of color account for 37% of the US population, yet they represent 67% of the prison population. Black men are nearly six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men…”
        (Pew research)
        I worked in a city north of Philadelphia and one of the LE officers I was friends with committed suicide after peer pressure from his group.
        He was one of “the good guys” who was not a racist or a bigot to minorities when “on the clock”.
        What we are seeing today as politicians like Trump single out women of color who do not agree with him in statements like “go back to the corrupt countries from which you came” is this ignites white supremacist across America.
        “This is one of the single most racist moments in modern American political history,” King said. “As Trump began attacking my friend Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the crowd began chanting “SEND HER BACK, SEND HER BACK.” It’s utterly despicable and dangerous. We are here. We are in THAT time.”

      • Steve Colin should not be punished but facts are that hiring is affected by whom and what you are and the trouble you cause especially if it costs a company money to hire you . Steve let’s analyze the logic in your statements . Fallacy of logic is a common mistake. Creating a situation of what appears one way can be the opposite. You state there are many voices trying to show racism is rising. Does many voices show anything factual? No it does not . It only shows people are aware and willing to bring it up . Would registering stats of racist occurrences show anything? Not nessasarily . A prior baseline with exact same environmental/ political environment and population density would be needed to determine if actual racism was rising. If more acts were registered per percentage of people it would possibly show more people were provoked to action but then the question would be asked why before being able to tell if it was rising or if environmental factors were at work and racism was the same or if awareness and intolerance and confidence was causing it to be registered more often. In a similar concept- if you look in the water and a fish observer with better sonar says now we have x number percentage of fish . Prior years analysis of fish numbers says a different number. Was there actually any change in numbers? Impossible to tell unless environmental factors are exactly the same . Therefore it’s a fallacy to assume racism is rising as people are now more aware and willing to report. It’s probable racism is the same roughly. It takes generations to really change ingrained items like racist or not . Now let’s look at percentages of blacks incarcerated- you brought a truly distasteful subject and added racism to it . Does their higher rates of incarceration indicate racism? Not nessasarily. Environmental factors are at work. Family , economy, areas of residence drugs ect ect . To consider racism is the primary factor or even involved is to ignore the physical facts within the environment that can be scientifically proven to effect incarceration rates . Thus a fallacy. Racism could be involved but there is no proof of rising racism effecting rates . What is known is a rising economy will tend to lift people’s opurtunity and financial future which will reduce incarceration rates . Now as to trump and similar politicians singling out women of color, once again you entered a fallacy of logic. The bear bit the green man therefore the bear is against green men . Oops logical fallacy. The dog may bite all men ? Or he may bite anyman or any creature who looks edible or acts a certain way . Color and race had nothing to do with it . If you are trying to strike for the truth it’s imperative you avoid twisting facts to support a narrative. Make any sense?

    • No. Colin Kaepernick was fired from his job (not “banned”) because his talent was not great enough to overcome the negative impacts his non-game-related puerile, self-aggrandizing political behavior had on his team and the sport. Full stop.

      As demonstrated by the fact he was able to collude with Nike to help them virtue signal via his asinine protest of a US Flag as a “symbol of slavery,” showing that when his moronic political views actually align with someone willing to pay him because his idiocy is profitable, he is welcomed with open arms.

      • Bryan,
        Make No mistake…I have respect for the men and women “behind the shield” in America, yet I feel the situation we have with a “militarization of the police” compounded with the increase in racism makes for a very concerning paradigm.
        Here is a recent story from Maj. Danny Sjursen who is a retired U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point.
        Danny served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan…
        He writes: “The military men who once carried water for the empire all too often return home and seek out jobs in law enforcement or the border patrol. They then apply the skills they honed patrolling foreign streets, guarding foreign prisoners and killing foreign adversaries to new victims—usually immigrants and/or urban people of color—back home in the US of A. It is a vicious cycle of cruelty in which even the perpetrators become victims, their souls tarnished and damaged irreparably by the application of violence and cruelty to brown faces, both at home and abroad.”

    • Steve, since this probably isn’t in any your “news” sources I wanted to pass this on to you. Seems you and Trump have more in common then you care to admit. Me, I just lkve the guy.
      “If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill ten million people,” Trump said. “If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be over in literally ten days.”

      Trump said he no longer wants the United States to employ forces in Afghanistan as “policemen” in the world and stated that he continues withdrawing some forces. He also signaled hope that Pakistan could help secure peace in the region.

      • Bryan,
        There are things which Donald Trump does that I do agree with…I even had some hope in the beginning of his presidency when he was saying stuff like “It wouldn’t be bad for us to have a better relationship with Russia”…then it seems the power brokers took over and showed him the play book for “divide and conquer” a great nation.
        I just watched a video of Putin meeting with high ranking advisors and speaking on the future of America. He was quick to point out how white Christians are poised to soon be a minority in this country and he (Putin) felt that centralized power would be lost to the break-up of more tribal communities across the landscape…this is unfortunately exactly what happened in Yugoslavia in the early 90’s.

      • Steve, you can thank the Democrats for anything “tribal” developing in America. All seeing through the prism of “Race, Class, Gender”. Putin is 100% correct. Trump is 100% correct trying to stop it. And then we have assholes like Bernie Sanders, AOC, Omar, Pelosi, Schemer, etc..

  2. Interesting article but slightly abstract? Buffet and gates have a lot of my respect for ability. I think they are calling out the economic game for being out of kilter . Note amazon paying no federal tax and utilizing basically government subsidies to support its employees. Their wages are to low and many utilize public assistance to make ends meet . Also Amazon on the ball for scamming the federally funded postal system to keep shipping dirt cheap . I get the concept companies keep people employed but there needs to be a bit of some adjustment in the extreme difference between ceo pay and lower workers . I’m against a minimum wage as it makes it tough for small companies and minimum wage basically removes entry level employees an apprenticeship. Until an employee fully learns the job they are a cost liability. That can take anywhere from 2 weeks to ten years . That said there needs a tough look taken at policy . Perhaps a living minimum wage reward to employees after they have been with companies a certain number of years based on percentage of what a company or the ceo / owner earns . In my mind 15$ an hour is a joke . It’s not a living wage . It’s an entry / apprentice wage . A living wage is closer to 30-40$ minimum in this economy. It pays to have all workers strong self sustaining and healthy. It makes America stronger. Which in turn benifits everbody including big companies. Workers then have more money to spend and more time to develop ideas . Just a thought.

    • Really the minimum after a couple years should be as close as possible 50$ per hour or a minimum monthly as big companies put employees on salary to keep total control of employees time . So salary needs based off 40 hour work week keeping salaries in 8 k month range thus Americans get out of debt and have real freedom instead of economic slavery. Don’t mistake my concept for anti buisness. I have extreme respect for buisness but I dislike predatory practices towards employees. If a company is successful so should it’s employees be . At least one once they are no longer entry level. I understand market demands lower wage for certain industries so that’s why a specific hard number is not realistic. Probably shouldn’t be implemented. It needs based off some percentage. Then all buisness laws looked at to moderate predatory practices such as extreme percentage difference in pay , forcing employees to rely on government handouts , buisness over utilizing federal institutions such as post office to subsidize itself , abuse of long hours in salary situation, and big companies sidestepping paying benifits and heath insurance by only allowing aprx 30 hours of work witch makes that employee not eligible for company health insurance and having to work excessively to make ends meet multiple jobs . Valuation of companies with workers and feds getting a chunk of money for pay and tax based on percentages irregardless of technical profit will be more functional for society . Big companies are just to good at paying themselves first . ( we need them and their abilities but a modified pay and tax code would be a good idea.) Just a thought.

    • Hey Opinion,
      Nice take on crony capitalism in our country. As a lover of the free market, it drives me nuts when states and local governments put everyone else on the bill when they grant tax exemptions to ‘chosen’ company’s. Not to throw in another topic into these threads, but much of this type of favoritism would be reduced by going to a flat tax system.
      I also have enjoyed reading yours and Steve’s comments today. Solid conversation. Hopefully, we can figure out how to provide equal opportunity to our country’s citizens (as opposed to the impossible ‘equality’ being thrown about by many well intentioned meat heads) within our lifetimes. I’m not too optimistic about that though.

      • Jack, where does it say it is the governments job to create “equal opportunity”? What a bunch of hogwash. “Equal” equates to Socialism and Communism. Equally poor!
        You’ve heard of the “Doer’s and Taker’s” right? Where there are half Doer’s and half Taker’s.

      • Hi Bryan, it’s our job as a society to create equal opportunity for all of our citizens, otherwise we’re just accepting the current reality that some people are just more ….. equal than the rest. Oink, oink! I know that it’s not in the Constitution. It is however, the right thing to do. Helping your elderly neighbor isn’t in the Constitution either, but I bet you go out of your way to do this, right?
        BTW, we’re well past half & half with the ‘doers vs takers’. Except now, we have huge corporations putting their hands out for the taking part – insurance, banking and government supply companies to start with. The amount of corporate welfare makes what we give out to our ‘taker’ citizens look like nothing.

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