The Quarterback and the 'Picture Superiority Effect'
How does someone who has done nothing but achieve at high levels his entire life still face so much skepticism?
New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones has emerged as a future NFL star this season, leading the New England Patriots to an 8-4 record heading into tonight’s game against Buffalo.
For Jones, 23, success is nothing new. He led The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., to the 4A state title his senior year of high school. He graduated in two years from Alabama, staying on to earn his Master's degree. And he guided the Crimson Tide to a national championship and one of the best seasons in college football history a year ago.
Yet, he was just the 15th overall pick — the fifth quarterback selected — in last year’s NFL Draft.
So how does this happen?
How does someone who has done nothing but achieve at high levels his entire life still face so much skepticism, even from experts at the top of their profession?
The answer really lies in the shirtless photo of him above.
NFL decision-makers simply ignored relevant information and past history and fell victim to a concept called the picture superiority effect. It refers to the phenomenon that pictures and images are far more likely to be remembered than words and can significantly impact our judgment of people and places.
“Human memory is extremely sensitive to the symbolic modality of presentation of event information,” author John C. Yuille writes in his book, Imagery, Memory and Cognition.
In other words, what we see is often stronger than what we know.
Our mind is full of countless biases that even we’re not cognizant of. While we can try to guard against them, they can still prevent us from making the right decision.
The chart in this link clarifies these and can help us avoid making poor choices rooted in bias.
As NFL teams struggle this season and consider whether they presently have the right quarterback in place, several are undoubtedly banging their heads against the table wondering how they missed out on Jones.
But it shouldn’t take hours, days or weeks to discover the answer.
They just need to look at the picture above.