Please explain "They Saw A Game," a case study by Hastorf & Cantril.

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ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The case study "They Saw a Game" is largely about perception.  Basically, there was an important football game between the colleges of Dartmouth and Princeton back in 1952.  Princeton's star player, Kazmaier, was playing his last game for the college and excitement ran high for both teams.

The game turned out to be quite rough.  Kazmaier left the game in the second quarter with a broken nose, and things went down-hill from there.  There were many injuries and penalties were racked up by both sides.

The interesting part came after the game.  Depending on who you asked, everyone had different opinions about the "roughness."  Princeton saw Dartmouth as the villain, while Dartmouth blamed Princeton.  While there is nothing unusual about that, the polarization of opinions made for an interesting psychological study. There was, after all, only one game, and both sides saw it.  The facts were clear.  How could the two schools have such different opinions about which side had acted more honorably?

The study involved surveying groups of students from both schools about the game shortly after they watched a film of it.  They were asked to record rule violations and decide how major the violations were.  Both schools, after watching the film, found more violations in the opposing team and rated those violations as more severe than they did for their own team.  This was interesting because both sides were watching the same film, yet they drew very different conclusions.

Researchers studying the results decided that while there was only one football game being played, each viewer was actually watching there own version of that game.  Each person, in essence, saw what they wanted to see.   Each added emotion, selective perception, and school loyalty into how they interpreted the facts.  It seems a bit obvious now, but this study helped to show how a group of people, all watching the same event, can have very different interpretations of what they've seen.