The Big Questions

Life, death and free will.

Rage! The Psychology of the US-Slovenia World Cup Match

The U.S. was robbed! I feel the rage!

USA midfielder Landon Donovan shoots and scores past Slovenia goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. Donovan's goal from a difficult angle started the Americans' second-half rally.

 

The US-Slovenia game was such an injustice; the referees were horrible.  I feel the rage, the patriotism and the fact that I "knew all along" that this would happen.

The US played Slovenia today in the World Cup. After an impressive tie with England, a win would all but ensure them of moving on to the next round; a loss would all but ensure that they would be eliminated.

As a diehard U.S. soccer fan, my patriotism was bubbling over (this is perhaps the only time I achieve actual patriotism) from the start. The US gave up a quick goal though, prompting my sadness and rage.  I may have said an expletive or seven.

I quickly Facebooked that I was right about Torres' start being a mistake. Self-affirmation research shows that affirming one's values and beliefs as important or correct helps people cope with negative/threatening information. So, maybe I should've done this before my expletive tirade!

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The US then allowed another goal. This time, the officials totally blew an offsides call leading to the goal. The announcers were on some type of substance (ok, so it just seems that way!) to agree with the ref's decision. FYI refs and announcers, it is where the torso is that counts, not the feet!

Confirming research on reactions to injustice, I was a pillar of anger and frustration. Confirming research on blaming the out-group, I called the refs about a million different versions of "idiots."

Then things looked up. The US banged in two after subbing in Feilhaber and Edu. I ws feeling mighty fine, because I said they should've started before the match. And lest I be accused of hindsight bias (people saying they knew it all along when they didn't), I have Facebook proof! Self-affirmation rules!

But then the US was totally, completely robbed and I about blew a gasket. Their third goal was disallowed for a reason known only to the man who called it.

Again, I supported research. The injustice fueled my anger. I blamed the refs (again). I sought affirmation that I was correct. I displayed hardcore hindsight bias, stating that I knew the refs were against the U.S. all along (I clearly didn't).

And, of course, I supported research showing that when you are biased towards one side, you will interpret anything as a sign your team should've won.

And now that the psychology is out of the way, let me say this. Please, please, please start Edu and Feilhaber next match, and give minutes to Beasley.

Thanks Bob Bradley; I'd really appreciate that.

Stupid freaking refs!

Picture: I think the Slovenia goalie's strategy was to dive backwards and pray to god he didn't get killed on this shot!

Nathan Heflick completed his Ph.D. in social psychology at The University of South Florida.

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