Outcome Bias in Writing Historiography: A Study Using Post-Game Commentary of Soccer Matches

Qindian Chen, University of California, Irvine
Yang Su, University of California, Irvine

The issue of historiographical bias of historical reality is an age-old question for historical sociologists. In this paper, we present an empirical investigation with two novel elements. First, we use a research design of natural experiment, in which we explore the discrepancies between a set of fully-recorded events (soccer games) as the “historical reality” and post-event analysis (sports commentaries) as “the historiography.” Second, we bring in the social phycological insight about outcome bias to examine the discrepancies but move one step further: Does outcome become a source of biased attribution even when the outcome is mistakenly ascertained in the first place? Our findings include quantifiable degrees of how the “historiography” departs from the “history” and patterns in historiography writings such as over-attribution to human factors in deciding the outcome.

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 Presented in Session 147. Science, Prediction, and Historiography