Author Archives: Jennifer Rosner

When it comes to your doppelganger – upgrade, but be reasonable.

If you’re reading this blog, then chances are you’re a cool enough person to know that doppelganger-mania has taken over Facebook. Like most trends, only the coolest of Facebookers started doing it – uploading a picture of their supposed look-a-like-celebrity as their profile shot, that is – and then everyone else followed suit within a matter of a single week, just as the established conformity literature would predict. That’s not what is interesting here, however.

Have you taken a minute to consider which celebrities your Facebook friends are uploading as their look-a-likes? Do it now. Open a new window if you must, and browse through their recently updated profile pictures. You should soon notice that you are hard-pressed to find a single unattractive look-a-like celebrity posing as even your ugliest friend’s doppelganger. No one uploads Janet Reno, or Pee-wee Herman, or that cat lady who’s had one too many facelifts – unless of course they are trying to be ironic. In short, your friends are affiliating themselves with good-looking celebrities so that they can ultimately become grouped with higher status people and take on their attributes – perhaps even the non-physical ones. And although their intentions are pure and admittedly self-aggrandizing – in the end, they just want to be liked – this doppelganger trend might inevitably backfire, according to the social psychological research.

According to Sherif and Hovland (1961), changing other people’s perceptions of you can be compared to the act of stretching a rubber band – you can stretch the rubber band only so far so as to climb up the social ladder. Eventually, however, if you overstretch the rubber band, the ties will become too tenuous and the band will snap back – rendering contrast rather than assimilation with the intended target. In brief, if your doppelganger is too attractive, you will appear even less attractive than you already are. Therefore, so as to compel your friends to assimilate you with your celebrity “look-a-like” without hitting a point where they start to contrast you away from him or her, your strategy should be to stretch the rubber band as far as possible without breaking it. So if you think you look like Angelina Jolie, opt for Sarah Silverman; men, if you think you’re a dead-ringer for George Clooney, stay safe and upload Simon Cowell.

Facebook Doppelganger Craze!

The effect of judges’ attitudes on ratings of attitude statements: A theoretical analysis

Sherif, M. & Hovland, C. I. (1961). Social judgment: Assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Underdog-matic: Loyalty to Conan Brings a Nation Together!

American culture has always rallied around the underdog – perhaps because we can always see a little bit of ourselves in anyone who is not expected to win. After all, we are a nation of immigrants who had to fight against all the odds to make the American Dream a reality. And although we may have long forgotten about our ancestors’ particular struggles, that sense of longing for fairness and justice, that desire to take on “The Man” and win, remains an essential element of the American psyche.

Although the research is in its infancy, the underdog effect has found support. In short, we pull for underdogs and give them a relatively steadfast sympathy, so long as their fate has little bearing on our own personal lives and when the impact, in the larger scheme of things, is relatively minimal; indeed, backing an underdog financially is a completely different beast!

Given the recent Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno-NBC late night drama that happened right before our eyes on live TV, we find ourselves yet again anecdotally substantiating what Americans have been known for all along – loving those underdogs. Robert Lloyd of the L.A. Times reports that, towards the very end of Conan’s stunted seven-month run as “Tonight Show” host, the audience – including non-regular Conan lovers – chanted his name and guests starting appearing on the show just to show support, with nothing to sell. As Lloyd laments that “[Conan] is the picked-upon odd kid in all of us… lovable, where Leno [is]… a creature of the establishment,” we truly understand why so many of us cheered for Conan: as an underdog, he represents a possibility – that eventually he’ll get back on track, on some network, and will be better than ever. And if he can rise out of this mess and end up winning – then by golly, so can I.

Late Night Watch: Conan O’Brien, NBC and the storm before the calm

Rooting for (and Then Abandoning) the Underdog