FPL psychology is a key part of a successful Fantasy Premier League season. As FPL managers around the globe build their squads for the new campaign, @FplDarkhorse looks at why we should be skeptical to trust our emotions when making FPL decisions.
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Recognise but Don’t Trust Emotions – FPL Psychology
Is this really sensible advice? Shouldn’t we be able to trust our emotions? No, we should not, as they can fool us into making bad decisions.
I do not warn against listening to emotions and becoming good at recognising them.
We just can’t trust emotions, and it’s wise to be aware of how to or how not to react to them.
What are Emotions – FPL Psychology
Emotions are inner experiences accompanied by physiological reactions, and they are the same for all of us.
Every time a player involved in our decision-making plays, emotions will appear.
The emotions we experience when the player we brought in before a gameweek deadline scores a brace, or the player transferred out does the same, are recognisable to all dedicated FPL managers.
We can feel nervous when a premium FPL player we don’t own is on the pitch, sad or angry if he picks up FPL points or happy if he blanks.
Avoid Hasty Decisions and Chasing Lost Points – FPL Psychology
When we have made our choices among the premium FPL midfielders, for example, it can be rage-inducing to see the one you don’t own racking up FPL points.
This rage can often be referred to as “tilt”, and it forces us to make hasty decisions. These decisions often come at the expense of medium/long-term plans.
They destroy team structure, they reallocate budget and they force hits. All for points that are already lost.
Should we make a transfer whenever premium players not in our squad score FPL points?
No, we should not.
We only have one free transfer available per gameweek. In almost all instances, there are better uses for it. For example, we can address a poor-performing budget FPL player.
Changing the premium players can backfire, leaving us with the same headache the following gameweek. Remember: well-founded transfers usually provide more FPL points than emotion-lead transfers.
In most cases, our choices have solid reasoning behind them. We shouldn’t get caught up and emotionally influenced whenever hindsight bias makes us think we should have known better.
Chasing points in FPL is like going to the store after closing time. There’s nothing to be gained, and playing that way over time can lead to exhaustion, stress and negative emotions.
Avoid Taking Grief in Advance – FPL Psychology
If we interpret a situation as dangerous to something we care about – like when our mini-league rival’s captain is yet to play and we fear that he’ll haul – the adrenal glands will produce adrenaline, making us feel threatened and anxious.
The adrenal glands, however, are not able to control the likelihood of whether the outcome we fear is going to come to fruition. Our emotions have no bearing on the outcome.
Instead, adrenaline is like a filter between the reality of a situation and our emotions. In other words, we can feel anxious without being in any real danger.
What we can trust however, is that we have interpreted a situation as threatening to something we care about.
For our own sakes, we should try recognising such situations and not take the grief in advance.
We are actually able to influence our emotions by choosing how much credibility we add to what we fear. Whether our interpretation is sensible, true, reality-oriented or appropriate must be consciously checked and altered accordingly.
In the mentioned example, our mini-league rival’s captain hasn’t even played yet. There’s no actual advantage to feeling anxious about an outcome we cannot influence or act upon.
If the worst is to happen and our mini-league rival’s captain does haul, we will not be less emotionally affected because we went around feeling anxious in advance.
Once the outcome is known, we can rightfully feel aggrieved or frustrated if necessary, but pre-empting this provides nothing.
Emotions are Self-Reinforcing – FPL Psychology
An important reason for being skeptical towards our emotions is that they, within themselves, are highly emotion-controlling.
Being downhearted or depressed can be compared to wearing depressive glasses. We see the world with pessimism and accordingly interpret it.
Even if we’re initially upset for good reason, the depression itself can be self-perpetuating, making us spiral even lower.
Having some distance from our emotions can, on the other hand, promote clear-headedness and minimise the worst results and consequences of them.
All emotions are usually self-reinforcing, including anger, anxiety and happiness.
Trusting Our Gut Feeling – FPL Psychology
What about gut feeling? Shouldn’t we trust that either?
Well, it depends.
Gut feeling is not an ordinary emotion. It’s the same as intuition, which is when we, without much reflection, just “know” what we want to do in a given situation. It’s not easy to explain, but we just sense what to do with an inner conviction.
Intuition is a wider term than emotion. It’s informed by everything we’ve experienced, everything we ever thought and considered, and is coloured by our foundational attitude and personality.
Being good at intuition means we have taken lots of intuitive decisions that time after time have turned out positive for us.
If this is the case for you, then you can afford to trust your intuition.
If, on the other hand, you’ve experienced a lot of negative outcomes after following your intuition, then you should probably go for a more logic-based approach, like underlying stats.
No Rule Without Exception – FPL Psychology
I don’t recommend you trust your emotions, but there is an exception to be made when it comes to happiness.
This is the only truly positive emotion, and we can trust it without any real harm.
If we’ve earned a green arrow and are happy with the outcome after the fixtures on a Saturday, we can choose to trust this emotion without any cynicism.
If it all goes pear-shaped on Sunday? Well, at least we had that joy as long as it lasted.
If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade – FPL Psychology
The advice of not trusting our emotions applies in particular to periods of adversity.
When we are flying high and things are going well, it’s different.
In periods of green arrows, where everything we touch becomes gold, our captain hauls gameweek after gameweek and the transferred-out players either gets injured, misses a penalty or sees a red card, just ride the wave and enjoy it.
Do not problematize anything.
These phases are rare, and just relax. We can be sure that they will soon be over.
– Wilhelmsen, I. (2016). Kongen anbefaler – holdninger til folket (The king recommends – attitudes to the people). Hertevig Forlag.
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