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Why Support the Underdog?

"Maybe we just don't like overdogs" explains exactly nothing, except that we don't like overdogs...

One could interpret the phrase to suggest that focus in this forum may be being misleadingly directed towards the idea of support of underdogs rather than opposition of overdogs (Vandello's "top dog"s), to which underdog support may be secondary. The phenomena are not inversions of each other. At least, I haven't taken dislike of overdogs as being granted by the assertions of tendency for support of underdogs.

Perspective changes are often useful. This interpretable alternate notion may lead somewhere, while conflict resulting from an ungenerous (if accurate) understanding may not always be as fruitful as this particular incident appears to (heartwarmingly) be.

The linked paper says:

Although not directly examining underdog support, research on attitudes toward high achievers (what Feather, 1991, has labeled tall poppies) is also relevant. For instance, high achievers often elicit envy and resentment from others, particularly when the achievement is seen as undeserved ... and people often experience pleasure in seeing the mighty fall...

[edit: Note further discussion of "schadenfreude" on page 1614.]

My opinion of overdog spite, without having conducted or surveyed studies: I think it exists and has a not insubstantial effect on underdog support, but my guess is that the primary factor or factors in underdog support are not dependent on it. Thanks anyway, Marshall, for the idea, whether you intended it. I'll keep it nearby as I consider underdog support.

Why Support the Underdog?

I also wonder about possible sex differences. Some information is available:

The Appeal Of The Underdog:

There was no significant effect, t(69) = 1.30, p = .19, though caution is warranted because of imbalanced samples. In fact, across all four studies reported in this article, there were no sex differences on the main dependent variables (all _p_s > .19).

Purchase Fuzzies and Utilons Separately

Maybe one does not "overcome" bias in the sense of vanquishing, but in the sense of getting the better of? Roll with your ape?

Makes me wonder how hard-wired our various tendencies to see (or cling to) certain obscuring maps are, and how much we can obliterate, suppress, or Aikido flip them. Without much thought I feel that I'm not averse to, um, shocking my monkey if need be, to get myself closer to rational behavior. But, yeah, up to that extremity there's doubtlessly a humongous lot of workable "therapies" or techniques to encourage rational inclination.

I will repeatedly bring up the concept of self-valuation because I believe it's critically involved in a lot of irrationality. The pain of the cognitive dissonance caused by the "ought to be" self map differing from actuality is the pain of devaluation. Find a way for folks not to experience that aversive grief and you'll have removed a great barrier to clearer thinking. I think it's possible.

Helpless Individuals

I also found this confusing. The interpretation that I came up with which made sense was that "They don't!" is meant to mean "mu" (being an interjection to say that the premise of the question is false) and that "large institutions" is a stylistically unqualified reference to public-benefit institutions directly supported by individuals. The false premise is that large (individually-supported, public-benefit) institutions exist, from which we could ask how.

The double whammy was momentarily confounding and a bit fun, but resulted in some forum heat loss and annoyance.

Church vs. Taskforce

Folks get a variety of satisfactions/comforts from church membership. Community does seem like a big one, but nebulous.

I think one of the greater draws of church community is a sense of being valued. For the self-assured this motivator might be hard to grasp. (Conversely, those of low self-esteem might overestimate its importance.) Anyway, I recommend research into the psychological problems correlating with religiosity. I haven't seen such studies in particular, but I've seen studies of psychological problems associated with conservatism and "Right-Wing Authoritarianism", which are mindsets correlated with religiosity. Fear of death and difficulty coping with chaos are two prominent traits.

Not to say that the urges towards church community are all pathologies. Just that certain "holes" might be keener felt when neuroses impinge. The terms "hole" and "gap" feel loaded. It might be easy to misread these terms as implying unnatural deficiencies rather than natural needs — like the gap in my stomach half a day after my last meal — even if holes are allowed as perhaps "even worth filling."

Service also promotes a sense of personal worth.

I believe that valuation of membership (or at least the perception of such by members) is fundamental to all "community"-like organizations. Maybe it's explicit ("Jesus loves you. This organization is supposed to be about promoting his teachings.") or maybe it's implicit (by serving the public, a valuation of all is implied).

You cannot support an organization that does not support you. And the more folks fear for their well-being (fearing death or instability), the stronger they'll want and seek the assurance of being cared for (by organization or by deity).

Why there isn't a world-wide "Mutual Care Society" but there are plenty of Objectivist clubs... Well, I trust there are details that somehow save my above ideas from invalidation...