Compete last, finish first

“From song contests to figure-skating, the order of contestants biases decisions.”

Emma Marris in Nature:

Wändi Bruine de Bruin, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, noticed that most experiments in decision science (a relatively new, interdisciplinary field that probes the mysteries of how humans make choices) present all of the options to their subjects simultaneously. But in the real world, when choosing an apartment or meeting a stream of suitors, for example, one often sees the alternatives in sequence…

Bruine de Bruin found that scores climbed as the competitions went on, with late-appearing singers and skaters getting higher marks on average.

More here.