“PROJECTION bias is the tendency to falsely project current preferences onto a future event.” To rearrange possible permutations of unfolding events to script an outcome to match subjective desires or fears. Football fans are THE BEST at this.
When it comes to rearranging the bits of the picture shattered by the latest result to create a new complex and concrete reality of possibility – nay, certainty – no one can beat a football supporter. It is part and parcel of what drives us on and keeps us prisoners. On the road home from a game, no matter what the outcome or display, we have already assessed the new landscape, planned out the next two or three results and recalibrated the table.
After mighty Bradford humbled Arsenal I seriously thought about booking my traditional Leicester Square Premier Inn hotel room for the 23rd of February in anticipation of an excited overnight on the eve of Boro’s Capital One Cup final against the Bantams. Obviously I didn’t. I’ll get the backroom staff at Gazette Towers to do it today though.
Because clearly it is written that Bradford are going to beat Leeds in their feisty semi-final (after the second leg at Elland Road is marred by shameful scenes: a pitch invasion by the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and a televised episode of spontaneous human combustion from Neil Warnock) while we polish off Aston Villa (Bennett OG, 90+3).
Boro v Bradford: it is the glamour Wembley final to have the new sponsors salivating.
Obviously we’ll win: Bradford will have had four key players sent off over the course of their tetchy two legged tear-up with their neighbours and another two just coming bad from nasty injuries. After that it is Europe here we come.
Others on my twitter feed dismissed my premature speculation on as ridiculous, naive, ill-fated, far-fetched and lacking any credible scientific basis. Besides, they said, it was OBVIOUS we were going to get Chelsea at Wembley. We always do. Revenge!
That is positive bias projection. Others who excel at negative projection will argue we’ll get gubbed tonight – or win and then get beat by Bradford on penalties in the semi and the demoralising defeat will dent or promotion hopes.
Football fans are great at creating elaborate scenarios based on flimsy speculation. And rearranging the bits of the shattered scenario immediately after a script changing set-back. It’s part of football’s psychological framework.
Go on, show me: predict what will happen tonight. Can Boro win? Will Emnes come off the bench to fire home a winner powered by football’s Inevitability Drive. Will Danny Graham? Leroy Lita? Extra-time? Penalties? Go on, dare to dream.