By Gregory B. Hladky
12:00 PM EDT, September 27, 2012
There's a psychological phenomenon called "stereotype threat," which boils down to the idea that poor expectations can often lead to poor performance.
The subject came up in this article about the horrible job done by the NFL's replacement refs during the first few weeks of the season. (The league's billionaire owners have finally decided to settle their contract dispute with regular refs, who will be back on the field for tonight's game, thank goodness.)
Those replacement refs apparently got to thinking about all the mistakes they were making, and worrying about making more of the same because that's what everyone was expecting, and that screwed them up even more.
All of which began to make me think of Congress and of the horrible job so many candidates for high office are doing in this election season. Could they all be suffering from "stereotype threat" issues?
"It does reduce working memory capacity, Barnard University professor Steven Stroessner was quote as saying about the effect of the stereotype threat syndrome.
"There are fewer cognitive resources. When you're in a high-stakes situtation, dealing with a lot of information, you've also got additional worries about the situation: 'I hope I don't blow this. Everyone's expecting me to get this wrong.' "
Now, doesn't that remind you of Congress? We all expect both sides to do a shitty job, and that expectation keeps getting confirmed time after time after time.
We all also now expect political campaigns, like the U.S. Senate mudfight between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy here in Connecticut, to be nightmares of misleading TV ads and negative attacks about crap that has nothing to do with the real problems of the nation. And that's exactly what we're getting.
There's one huge difference between the NFL's replacement refs situation and our political goofball system: the NFL is bringing back the pros.
So far, we haven't been able to find any really competent types to repace the bozos in Congress.
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