We might not always admit it, but we all defend our favorite things from time to time, while attacking everything else. Whether it's the blind trust in Mac over Windows, Marvel or DC, a rallying argument over Jacob vs. Edward, or a fervent belief that Star Wars is superior to Star Trek, we like to pick sides and we like to stick to them...
All kinds of factors play into this frantic fanboyism. One of them is Social Identity Theory, which suggests that your idea of self-concept is derived from the social group you identify with.
But why does any of this matter? Because we end up in delirious debates and fighting our corners like crazy people. Is Mac better than Windows when looked at empirically? Is Edward hotter than Jacob by a long shot? Nope. Because our choices don't even mean anything. And I'm about to tell you why...
The Science Behind Choice
In consumer cultures like America, people compete for status through comparing their taste in products. But a little thing called Choice-Supportive Bias means we're not really being as rational as we think in making decision.
Choice-supportive bias is a little trick of the brain that says whenever we make a choice, it was clearly the best and most correct choice that anyone could ever have made.
And it means that we rabidly defend our own choices because we remember our chosen options as better than our rejected ones. That doesn't mean they're wrong or I'm wrong, it's that we evaluated the choices differently and weighted certain things better than the other. If your decision was clearly superior in all ways, there wouldn't be a choice in the first place.
The Misconception: I prefer Edward over Jacob because I made rational choices when I decided to fall in love with his cold and dreamy stare.
The Truth: I prefer Edward because I rationalize my past choices to protect my sense of self. And I forget all about Jacob's ripped, shirtless torso.
But in fact, I don't really prefer Edward to Jacob and Marvel to DC AT ALL!! But I really do feel like I prefer Edward after I've already made that decision, because I've altered my memories to match my emotions...
Because your brain wouldn't be your brain if it wasn't constantly looking for fresh ways to mess with you, right?
So, the next time you hop into the boxing ring and get ready to launch an angry litany of reasons why your favorite thing is better than your best buddy's, you might want to think again.