Whether politicians win or lose may come down to how local athletes play the game. When local football and basketball teams were victorious, voters were more pleased with elected officials, a study appearing online July 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds. The capricious link between sports teams and politicians’ performance is a clear example of how irrelevant events can shape important judgments.
The idea that emotions from unrelated events spill over into other areas isn’t new, says study coauthor Neil Malhotra of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Lab studies have found that in the afterglow of a free gift, people rate their cars and televisions more highly, for instance.
“There is a lot of evidence of the predictable irrationality of human beings,” Malhotra says. “The question is, does this stuff actually happen in the real world?”
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