The Underdog Effect
The Underdog Effect
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  • 승인 2018.04.16 09:00
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Like David and Goliath in the Bible, we feel pleasure when the weak overcome the strong, and generosity and compassion for the weak. Why do you feel more interested if the obvious content leads to something different? It’s related to the Underdog effect.

"Under dog" means a team or a player who is least likely to win or win a sport. On the other hand, "top dog" means a team or a player with a high probability of winning and means a strong player. Originally, this term was used in a dog fighting ring, but it started to refer to the underdog effect as dramatic events occurred in American politics and the event was widely reported. Harry Truman, who was weak in the US presidential election in 1948, was elected by a 4.4 percent margin over Thomas Doyle. Then the media began to write these words. Experts analyzed the reason that Truman broke the expectation and succeeded in winning the poll, and it was because the image of the weak imprinted on the public became the driving force of collecting sympathy. This implies that generosity or sense of unity for the weak is applied to the psychological underpinnings of the public. When the election time comes, there is often a strategy to take advantage of underdog effects, such as an aggressive politician suddenly looking like a mere sheep.

The underdog effect is not a phenomenon existing only in the political sphere. A typical example is the Premier League 2015/16 season in Leicester City. The predicted probability of winning before the start of the season was 0.02%. However, the team that survived the 2014/15 seasons in the relegation zone defeated the winners in succession, and finally Leicester City won its first Premier League title in the history of the club with 36 rounds, 22 wins, 11 draws and 3 losses. Underdog effects shake people's emotions. Like getting more attracted to a successful player who overcoming physical disadvantages and cheering for weak teams when a weak team has a great fight against a strong team, you are touched and thrilled by the storyline that has overcome adversity. This effect is even more effective when Underdog wins Top dog.

A study by Paharia, Keinan, Avery, and Schor (2011) in the Journal of Consumer Research presented the three main elements that will further affect the Underdog story are the humble beginnngs, hopes, and dreams, and overcoming adversity.

Today, even many leading companies such as Google and Apple are aware of the underdog effect and are sending out advertising messages that they are not the first in their field. This is a sophisticated marketing strategy to dilute the public's hatred of the ‘Top Dog’.

On the other hand, there is an opposite effect. It is the 'Bandwagon effect'. The public has a tendency to increase self-satisfaction through a sense of solidarity with a strong person. The band wagon effect is defined as a phenomenon in which the public is driven along the band wagon at the forefront of the procession. Economically, a certain product trend such as luxury goods is defined as a phenomenon that causes new demand. The public has a psychology to accommodate the strong in the opposite point of the perception of the weak. The mainstream theory, which is frequently mobilized during election, is a strategy to resist the underdog effect by making the image of a potential candidate (top dog) to the public through the polls. It is a strategy to affect the bandwagon effect to the public so a favorable candidate gets more votes.


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