Why You Think Your Team Is Better Than It Really Is

Everyone thinks their team plays well, most of the time at least. But it's not just down to simple favoritism: your brain's actually hard-wired to rate the performance of people your support over than their opponents.

New Scientist reports how Pascal Molenberghs at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, tested how we judge the performance of people that play for our team and their opponents. He split 24 volunteers into two groups, and had them all judge the speed of hand actions performed by two people, one from each side.

The result? Volunteers were biased toward their own group. They thought they were faster, when in fact the speeds were identical. He did brain scans, too: they showed that the bias stemmed from differences in brain activity involved in perceiving the movement, not the process of making the call one way or the other. That means that our brains are hard-wired to perceive our team's performance as better than that of the opposition, regardless of whether it's the case or not.

You hear that, everyone who hates or loves Tom Brady? You're both wrong. [New Scientist; Image: Wouter Verhelst]