Britains Got Talent, and Bias: Performing last helps you win!

I often am amused at the amount of bias that is created within shows like Britains Got Talent, but even I am startled at the significant impact it has on outcomes.

The viewing figures have never been better for the UK’s premier independent channel ITV1 who televise the show. However talented, each of the winners have been fortunate to have a bias effect in their favour.

I was orginally going to call this the Boyle effect, after the most famous contestent and runner up, Susan Boyle. In fact it is known by psychologists as the recency effect. This is where most assessors (viewers in this case) remember and usually respond favourably to the most recent candidates (acts in this case).

If you look at the figures, all the winning acts in the semi-finals performed in the latter half of the show, has did the top three in the final.

Whether bias can be managed in these type of competitions is debatable, however its effects are profound – a lesson for all those who run competitions for artists in entertainment or for positions in business.

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