FPL Cognitive Dissonance

Last updated on July 15th, 2019

Written by Blocc FPL, follow him on twitter @BloccFPL and Youtube

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort that one feels when they hold two contradicting ideas or behave in a way that doesn’t match how they think about something. When cognitive dissonance arises, the person experiencing it changes one belief or action so that it matches the other. For a better explanation, I’d recommend checking out this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN-6nBs7sbI

How does cognitive dissonance relate to FPL? Well, one way is through twitter. As shown in the video linked above, making remarks about a subject can change the way you think about it. So, you can probably imagine a couple of ways in which cognitive dissonance might impact you while posting on Twitter. Let’s say you’re asked to choose who’s the better option between Luka Milivojevic and James Maddison. You reply “James Maddison, he’s a good option”. In reality, you might think he’s just a decent option given the likes of Zaha, Fraser, and Tielemans at similar prices, but it’s just a simple twitter response to a question you find rather easy, so you don’t think too much about your response. Here’s where cognitive dissonance comes in. You saying that Maddison is a good option may be slightly different than what you actually think about him. Similarly to the example in the video, you have now performed an action that doesn’t quite line up with your actual thoughts. So which one will you change to fit the other? Will you end up considering him for your team more because you acted in that way and want to stay consistent with the action? Or will you try to go back to how you were consistent before hand and reconsider and confirm to yourself that he’s only a decent option? Again, the difference is slight between considering Maddison decent and good, but because you didn’t want to fully explain your position on him, you may have caused some conflict in your own head. If you did, it will likely impact the way you act in the future. 

A good example of how saying something that you don’t necessarily agree with can impact your future behavior was presented in a study on cognitive dissonance. In the study, subjects were told to do a presentation on why people should eat healthily and the importance of it. In the weeks and months following them giving the presentation, the subjects would typically have a healthier diet than they did previously, even if they didn’t believe the words they were saying when they presented. Cognitive dissonance is why even if you truly don’t believe that you can accomplish something, if you start saying you can and acting like you can do it, you will likely start to actually believe you can. The simplest way that cognitive dissonance can impact your FPL performance is if you have a habit of saying that you’re not a good FPL manager or that you’ll probably fail at some aspect of the game. Even if you’re just saying it and you don’t believe it, you may start to believe it so that your thoughts line up with your actions.

One thing I see a lot of is content creators or just the general FPL twitter community talking about how someone could potentially be a good differential. Maybe you pick someone who’s less than five percent owned every week and talk about how good he is as part of a series. Any time you take a stance on a player just for content (like the example with talking about dieting) and say things that you may not fully believe, you may end up in a cognitive dissonance trap where, because you said it, you might actually start to believe it and act on it. Make sure to explain how you’re actually thinking instead of merely trying to sell others on some weird pick for entertainment, because you might end up selling yourself!

Bad Thinking

Recently, there have been many FPL managers choosing teams for the 2019/2020 season in a way that would have them starting with five defenders. Some common objections to playing five at the back include those such as “I’m just not comfortable playing five at the back” or “I don’t want to be watching games from behind the couch, afraid that defenders will lose clean sheets”. Well fortunately for those choosing to go with five at the back, the amount of discomfort or fear one has doesn’t mean that players won’t get points or aren’t good value. Perhaps people that object to five defender formations in FPL also have some evidence for why it is a bad idea, but often these sorts of arguments with no evidence to suggest bad point returns (which is all that matters) are given. In FPL, it’s important to keep your thinking on the central route rather than the peripheral route.


One strategy may be boring or scary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial to your point output.

As we go into the season, it’s also important to remember that arguments stand and fall on their own merits. Just because your favorite FPL content creator is saying to get a player doesn’t mean you should. It’s all about why they think what they think; whether there is good reason for it. The same goes for those people that you may not like. It doesn’t matter who says what, evaluate the claims themselves and not the person saying it.

Hasty Generalization

Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy that typically follows a pattern such as this: X is true for A, X is true for B, therefore X is true for C, D, and so on. The problem with this statement is that because X is true for A and B doesn’t mean it’s true for C and D. For a football example, it is true that newly promoted teams typically don’t compete for Europa league spots in the EPL. One could’ve said before last season that this lack of competition was true for the 2016-17 season (X is true for A), and the 2017-18 season (B), therefore it will be true for the 2018-19 season. Those who would’ve made that fallacious argument would’ve been wrong, and their problem is they didn’t take all the evidence into consideration. If they would have investigated the actual substance of the newly promoted teams, they would’ve seen that Wolves had a significantly better team than most newly promoted teams. Just because something is typically one way doesn’t mean it will stay that way; take everything that changes around it into account and there may be good reason to think that the big change in question will happen. A lot of people are saying “Well, some player must score the FPL points for Chelsea”, implying Chelsea will get a lot of FPL points as a team because they always do. There may be reason to think that they will still be a high-quality team, but not merely because of what they’ve done in the past. Their attackers have changed a lot, so the results of their attacking play have a better chance to change as well. Just make sure to have good reasons, like with everything.

Mark De Carvalho
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