Monday, May 3, 2010

Game theory and the underdog

I just read an interesting article on Slate about why people love to root for the underdog.  I support the White Sox and the Brewers against any other team (when they play each other every three years, I root for the White Sox), but if I have no real knowledge of the teams involved, I'll root for whoever is losing.  I know some of my friends do this, too.

That didn't strike me as weird until Daniel Engber, the author of the article, noted that it's counter-intuitive that we would always root for the losers, because it means we're more likely to be disappointed.  He goes on to examine this and summarize several interesting studies.  A lot of it relates to the ideas brought up in A Beautiful Math, that book I read on game theory.

It's an interesting article.  Here's the link:

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