University of Pennsylvania historian Jonathan Zimmerman reminds us that the Eagles and Trump are underdogs. Over at the San Francisco Chronicle, Zimmerman reflects on America’s love for the underdog. Here is a taste:
In a 2007 experiment, people were presented with an imaginary contest between Team A (the favorite) and Team B (the underdog). Team B got more support until it was revealed that Team A had a much lower payroll. After that, two-thirds of the people backed Team A.
But our affection for underdogs ends if we think they’ll harm our own self-interest. Psychologist Scott Allison calls this phenomenon the “Walmart effect.” In theory, we favor mom-and-pop shops over big-box stores. But we’ll still buy our TVs and washing machines at Target or Walmart if we think we can get a better price.
Allison demonstrated this principle by asking a group of subjects whether they favored a large, established company or a small startup in awarding a contract to test drinking water. The subjects favored the little company until they were told that the water was in their hometown, and that it might contain “cancer-causing mercury.” After that, the majority of people changed their minds and backed the big business.
And that has big implications for the way we think about our contemporary political moment. When Trump was campaigning for president, opponents from every party scoffed at his underdog claims. How could a man who was born into enormous wealth — and who avoided paying federal taxes for many years — possibly play the little guy?
Trump’s answer was to focus on the so-called mainstream media, which had written him off. And on that score, he was right: Almost nobody who thinks seriously about politics foresaw him winning the White House. Indeed, if you believe Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury,” even Trump didn’t think he’d win.
Read the entire piece here.
I’m sticking with my prediction: Eagles 33 Patriots 0