Sunday, February 03, 2008

Overshooting

Overshooting means delivering a higher than the otherwise necessary level of input (cause) in order to get a certain output (consequence, effect) because the set of conditions applying to the origin of input is different from the set defined as standard.

For instance, it is said that in order to get the same level of recognition, women have to show higher results than men, and it is said that this happens because usually a negative bias against women exists in the process of evaluating their results.

We may have found another example of overshooting.

Let's imagine a country A that enjoys a very positive outside perception about the quality of its universities. And let's imagine a country B that, maybe because it is much less known outside (and ignorance usually doesn't lead to positive perception bias), maybe because there is a general negative perception about its qualities, doesn't enjoy a high reputation for its universities. Not enjoying a high reputation can simply mean that people outside, whether they have or not accessed somehow the general quality of B's universities, have the belief that B's universities can't be as good as A's.

Then, say, a university of country B, in order to be regarded outside as highly as any university of country A, must perform much better than those ones. Country B's university must overshoot its performance because the conditions that apply to its outside evaluation are different than those applying to A's universities. B's conditions are characterized by a negative perception bias.

It is interesting to note that overshooting might happen whether the negative perception bias is "objectively" justified or not, is fair or not, is desirable or not, is changing or not.


This weekend there seems to be another example of overshooting.

A German tv-show host, after making a joke with a Nazi phrase, laughing about that, recognizing the joke was a great mistake, and apologizing publicly, was fired.

Germany started the Second World War. Germany participated actively in the Second World War. Germany lost the Second World War. Thereafter, the outside perception about Germany hasn't been the best. Thus, in order to demarcate themselves from that unfortunate joke, the German tv channel where that situation took place could not just broadcast an apologies statement. It had to overshoot the effort of demarcation. Thus, it released the atomic bomb: it fired the apologizing host.


The degree of overshooting is most probably related to the importance (ethical, economic, ...) of the desired effect. And it might be related with the degree of negative perception bias. And the degree of negative perception bias may or may not be related to facts and prejudices, facts about prejudices and prejudices about facts.

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