By Apolitical – Satire piece on Straits Times’s report (30th June)
The United Nation’s decision to hand Minister Louse Souless – aka Souless Louse – a four month ban for baiting Italian defender Gorgeous Chili Ini has sealed Souless’s place as the villain of World Club 2014. The incident has provoked outrage across the globe, with many saying the punishment is too lenient for such a heinous crime.
But where does this behaviour that we find to be so unsportsmanlike come from?
Souless is not the only culprit: skiving, dirty tackles and other foul behaviour takes place on the polity pitch that leaves us wondering why politicians sometimes act this way.
Polity psychology research shows that clearly there are some personal characteristics that predispose politicians to cheat, but the social environment also plays a key role.
The aim of the game in polity is winning, with the World Club Accolades being the pinnacle of the profession. Unsurprisingly, cheating is largely driven by a desire to succeed.
There are two types of success: objective and subjective. Objective success is measured by the number of elections a party wins, which determines who wins the game. But there is also subjective success. This can apply in the face of defeat and is where politicians have their own definition of success, which they develop over time through socialisation with significant others such as family and mentors.
Politicians who cheat often have big egos, and a disposition to define success in relation to others. For these players, satisfaction with accomplishment is dependent on doing better than others.
In contrast, other politicians are predisposed to feel successful when they accomplish victory through hard work and achieve a personal best. Success for these politicians has value and meaning when achieved not through cheating but through personal effort. Politicians who prioritise ego tend to cheat and injure others, whereas those who value tasks are more likely to play by the rules.
Politicians differ in the importance they place on being a moral person. Some feel that certain traits such as being fair and honest are an important part of their identity and this motivates moral action.
In one study, we found experienced politicians who had a strong moral identity reported low frequency of anti-social behaviour such as skiving, deliberate glad-handing (to greet in an insincerely effusive manner), and trying to injure an opponent while playing football: some politicians like to kick opponents when they are down and out. It’s unlikely that Souless would fall into this camp: the camp with strong moral identity.
Although individual differences distinguish politicians who cheat from those who don’t, the most important influence comes from the team environment, particularly the mentor. Through the rewards they give and the way they interact with players, mentors communicate what is important in polity.
For example, when mentors reward only the best players, and pressure players to win, they send a clear message that winning is everything. Similarly, when mentors encourage their politicians to skive, they send the message that this behaviour is acceptable. This makes politicians who contemplate skiving and dirty tackling actually engage in these acts.
In another study, we asked politicians to read scenarios that referred to hypothetical situations in polity, such as skiving to fool the electoral and dirty tackles. Politicians who perceived that their mentor encouraged this behaviour and favoured the best politicians also reported cheating. Interestingly, these politicians also thought it was right to do so: that is, they did not have reservations about the acceptability of skiving or dirty tackling.
We observe the same politicians cheating over and over again – Souless, for example, is on a third charge of baiting an opponent and he’s trying to play down its significance.
Many are shocked at the apparent lack of guilt or shame on his part, which are the emotions that typically deter people from immoral behaviour. How do these villains on the pitch act the way they do without feeling bad?
Behaviour is justified through moral disengagement, which is a set of mechanisms people use to justify cheating or other forms of inappropriate behaviour.
For example, politicians may displace responsibility for their actions to their mentor, by saying that the mentor told them to do it; they may blame politicians of the other party by claiming that they provoked them; they may say that they did it to help their party; they could downplay the consequences of their actions for others; or they could say that “everybody does it”.
These justifications enable politicians to minimise negative emotions that are normally experienced when one cheats. In several studies we have found that politicians who report high moral disengagement also report high anti-social behaviour.
The answer to better on-field morals lies in the politicians’ immediate social environment – that is, their teammates and leader. Mentors especially play a pivotal role in behaviour. The way they respond when a politician cheats sends a message to the politician of whether this behaviour is acceptable. Souless received strong backing from his mentor, teammates and much of the Singalong press.
United Nationa’s decision to give Souless a four month ban, curtailing his involvement in his country’s World Club campaign, sends the message that this behaviour is unacceptable. But this is not the first time Souless has acted this way and been punished.
Given that this behaviour is recurring, a more severe punishment would have been more likely to act as a deterrent for future anti-social behaviour. Clearly though he would also benefit from a social environment that doesn’t encourage this kind of behaviour as well.
Apolitical is a Senior Leecher* in Support and Exorcise Psychology at University of Blurringharm, United Klingdom. This article first appeared in The Conversation (theconversation.com), a website which carries analysis by academics and researchers in Australia and the UK.
*Note: ‘lecher’ is a man given to excessive sexual indulgence, a lascivious or licentious man whereas ‘leaching’ is the act of dissolving out soluble constituents from (ashes, soil, etc.) by percolation. A ‘leech’ is a person who clings to another for personal gain, especially without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other’s resources; parasite.
The synonyms for ‘leech’ are bloodsucker, extortioner, sponger, etc.
A Senior Leecher in an academic institution is an expert in skiving. Through leaching he is able to differentiate between the real deal and the fake. It stands to reason an expert in leeching is also an expert in leaching.
With the ability to skive – I mean to detect skiving – a Senior Skiver has time to spare. Inadvertently, it is not uncommon to discover that he also degenerates into a Senior Lecher.
In any event, with the passage of time, all juniors would end up being seniors. With age, impaired bodily functions must necessarily dictate the older generation will be more active in spectator sports. You can draw your own conclusion whether Senior Leecher is also a Senior Lecher.