An underdog is a person, team, or other entity widely believed to have a poor chance of success, winning, or achieving some other goal.
There are underdogs in every walk of life, from business to sports. An underdog is anyone who is at a perceived disadvantage, who is perceived by others to be weak, who has a history of failure or challenges, or who people believe is likely to fail. Underdogs are commonly used in television and movies both as comic relief and as sources of inspiration and triumph. The television cartoon “Underdog,” for example, follows the triumphs and exploits of an unlikely canine superhero. Examples of an underdog might include:
People often choose to root for the underdog, and most people love a story about an underdog triumphing against adversity. The reason for this may be that most people have been underdogs at some point in their lives because no one can succeed at every pursuit. When underdogs succeed, it can give people hope that effort, hard work, and hope can triumph in the face of immense adversity.
Being the underdog can have both positive and negative psychological effects. While underdogs are often given public acclaim when they win, the perception that an underdog is likely to fail can increase the likelihood of failure, harm self-esteem, and cause performance anxiety.
Last updated: 10-23-2014