We generally back the likely loser. Our affection for the loser could be due to our desire to attain maximum pleasure and excitement. One gets maximum excitement, as a spectator, when two equal teams are playing against each other. One doesn’t get similar excitement if one team is much inferior. The missing excitement is compensated by backing the weak team. We love the experience of the unexpected excitements. If we multiply the odds of an underdog’s victory by the amount of pleasure it would produce, we would end up with a greater number, writes Daniel Enaber. When we back an underdog, our action seems more virtuous and appealing. Underdogs try much harder. Malcolm Gladwell writes, underdogs win only when they break the rules. Davids win when they choose not to play by the rules set by Goliaths. Research suggests that when playing against stronger competition, underdogs sap their motivation. They end up performing worse.

We feel morally good when we root for the underdog, but at an unconscious level, we don’t take the underdog all that seriously. We indulge in backing an underdog if we know that not much is at stake. Sympathy for the less fortunate is good. Too much sympathy, however, destroys self-reliance and encourages dependency.

‘Misguided compassion hurts the poor’ is a well-known fact. Benjamin Franklin’s way of doing well for the poor was by leading or driving them out of poverty. He said, “I observed in different countries that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and, of course, became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” Mohammad Yunus made similar observation. Overdoing takes away the initiative, self-confidence and responsibility from the people. He believes that the “beneficiaries of charity are favour-seekers rather than claimants of something they deserve.” Theodore Dalrymple finds in foreign aid a vicious way to pauperise an already poor country. He says that the more impoverished the country is, greater is the need for foreign aid. Greater is the need of foreign aid, the more privileged the elite become. The more privileged the elite become, greater is the tendency to adhere to policies that result in poverty. Poverty is a circle. It reaches the same point from where it started.

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