Why the Best Person Rarely Wins

Friday, 25 March 2022 via Zoom

Speaker: Warren Thorngate

Lecture Summary:

Contests are popular means of deciding who will receive medals, cash prizes, jobs, scholarships, attention, emergency care, and other limited resources. Most of us assume that fair contests assure “the best person wins.” I will demonstrate why this assumption is frequently false – more so as contests evolve. I will illustrate how contest evolution breeds corruption and harm, then speculate how contests can be improved by changing the rules of their game.

Bio: Warren Thorngate:


Warren Thorngate is an emeritus professor of psychology who spent his career studying and teaching human decision making, problem solving, social influence, motivation and research methods. He taught for many years at the University of Alberta, then at Carleton University, and served as a visiting professor at several universities in the US, UK and Australia, Poland, Germany, and Iran. He is a proud resident of Almonte.