Aug 15, 2008

Foam hand history

We learned two things today via the always-entertaining Freakonomics blog

First: The "#1" foam finger hand was invented in 1978 by Geral Fauss, a high school teacher. Now made of polyurethane foam, originally it was a wooden sign. Fauss says: "I saw the students in the stands holding up an index finger, and shouting 'we're number 1' at the playoff games. Students rallied around the team and kept a fevered pitch during the playoffs. I knew that they wanted something 'big' to show their I thought , why not a large 'hand sign.'" Lots and lots of additional details about the foam hand are here...

Second: Maybe fans should tone it down a bit when cheering for the home team? "Jennifer L. Butler and Roy F. Baumeister, psychologists at Case Western Reserve University, found that people often performed unexpectedly worse in front of supportive audiences than they did in front of neutral ones. (We think of it as choking under pressure.) In Butler and Baumeister’s experiments, the higher audience expectations got, the worse their performers did." (More via Freakonomics)

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