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The horns and halo effect

I actually found some free time in my schedule and my psycho bones are rattlin' so I thought perhaps I might entertain you with s'more psycho stuff. Who knows, this might improve your already advanced analytical football wizardry by compelling you to introspect yourself as you make your analyses, and the end result might be a far keener intuition upon which your sophistication breaks a glass ceiling that you never knew was there. My goal is to add to that fundamental knowledge of analytic acumen that I have noted has taken some effect whereby even bloggers from other sites have remarked that s&bp knows football, and I am proud to be a member of this site, so put on your critical thinking caps (or Raider helmets, should I say?).

Have you ever thought about how other people's writings just might influence your perceptions of analyses and what you might come to believe about how players play and their abilities? I am sure you will readily argue that you are your own man (or woman) and that no one can influence you. You might even feel that you will justifiably hear other arguments and weigh in on political correctness but at a certain point people can reach your noble zenith that is so sacrosanct and how dare anyone question your football psychodynamics? I mean, how can others be greater football wizards than you? So, psychodynamically speaking, what possible influences are underlying your unconscious that just might be influencing you without you being aware? I want to focus on one such theory called the horns and halo effect. For example, in the field of industrial/organization psychology (sharpen your fangs Mallard, this is your area), psychologists make analyses about workers or working environments and preconceived perceptions of certain workers might influence evaluations based upon previous notions or understandings of certain workers' performance which is currently worse or better than what it actually is. You might like someone and therefore you might give a person good credit when such credit is not deserved and vice versa, and it was preconceived notions of this person that led to such possible erroneous evaluations. To clarify what I mean, let's place this theory in a football perspective.

Consider Jacoby Ford. In his breakout game last year vs KC he caught a few important catches that won the game. He was so cheap as a 4th round pick that no one could focus on a couple of bombs he dropped that game. In fact in the remainder of the year, he dropped several other important catches such as a kick off return against San Diego. Jacoby dropped a total of 5 balls in just half the season because that is all he played. However, because Ford was so cheap, and without a doubt, other factors come into play, such as the way he fights for the ball midair, that left people so impressed that his failures tend to be overlooked. Now, don't take me wrong because I love Ford's play, but he makes mistakes that other players make and people tend to overlook these errors, which is the halo taking effect. When people speak so highly of Ford in combination with geniunely talented play, a sort of bandwagon effect might happen with that tendency to overlook his deficiencies. I recall in the first Denver game how Ford dropped a pass at the start of the game that was a fumble recovery by Denver, yet no one questioned or criticized Ford - truly a halo effect.

Now, I am not trying to defend DHB, but he is a classic example of a horns effect. Because of his draft status and the fact that NO ONE approved of that choice, he came to us with bullhorns that would make a Texas longhorn jealous. We have all witnessed his production this year yet let him drop one pass and so many people overlook that he was still our most productive receiver and getting better. It is difficult to overcome the horns effect especially when our hunger for playoffs can be so overwhelming. Had it been DHB that dropped those balls that Ford had dropped I am sure he would have been nailed to a cross. Note that DHB dropped less balls than Ford did in the second half of last year (and if I recall correctly, he dropped less balls than Ford for the entire year, and someone here presented those statistics). Again, I'm not defending DHB, and I would encourage you to think about other players that might have started with a horns effect such as Jason Campbell, a player whom I have been outrightly critical of during his development, who began to show real promise before he broke his collarbone. The important point I am trying to emphasize is that once you have unconsciously labeled a person, it is hard to overcome the pull of the horns and halo effect whereby you can be unjustifiably overly critical and not even know it, or it just might tamper with your analytic acumen. Stay sharp, stay focused, and don't let the horns and halo effect skew your perceptions. I will leave you with these questions: Upon self introspection, have you been guilty of the horns and halo effect? What Raider players might you have prejudged as a result of this horns and halo effect?

Signed, Psycho From Hell

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