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Social Identity

The Things We Do: Why are World Cup Fans so Crazy?

Roxanne Bauer's picture

The World Cup started in Brazil on June 12. This means that the next few weeks will be filled with anger, anguish, joy, and triumph.  Sports fans have always been deeply emotional and obsessed… but also incomprehensible to those who ‘don’t get it.’  Why do fans paint their faces, dye their hair, or engage in bizarre rituals for good luck? Why do we still cheer for our teams despite corruption or other misdeeds? 

Edward Hirt, a psychology professor at Indiana University in the US, has researched sports psychology, and he says, "As human beings, we have this desire to feel a sense of belonging or a sense of social connectedness with others, and being a part of different groups (gives) us identities."  Scientists have shown that fans who feel personally invested in a team or who attend games and cheer with their fellow fans reap mental health benefits that come from feeling social connected.
 

Quote of the Week: Stephen Reicher

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Individuals don’t lose identity in the crowd and they don’t lose control over their behaviour or rationality. Rather they shift to a shared social identity and seek to act in terms of that shared identity.”

Stephen Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology, University of St. Andrews. As quoted in the Financial Times, December 28, 2011.