Devoted fans release more cortisol when watching live soccer matches

Newson, M., Shiramizu, V. , Buhrmester, M., Hattori, W., Jong, J., Yamamoto, E. and Whitehouse, H. (2020) Devoted fans release more cortisol when watching live soccer matches. Stress and Health, 36(2), pp. 220-227. (doi: 10.1002/smi.2924) (PMID:31943736)

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Why do some sports fans exhibit such strong emotions when watching live matches? Identity fusion is a strong form of group alignment in which personal and group identities synergise to produce a visceral sense of "oneness" with one's team. This paper investigates its role using a three-item state measure with high internal validity in elevating salivary cortisol levels during intense group events (n = 41). Our evidence was gathered at field laboratories during the 2014 soccer (football) World Cup in Natal, Brazil, with live screenings of two Brazilian victories (Colombia, 2-1; Chile, 1-1 with penalties), and the historic semi-final loss to Germany (1-7). We replicated previous studies showing that salivary cortisol concentrations fluctuate during live football events and are related to group membership, and extending them by suggesting that identity fusion is even more strongly related to cortisol concentrations than identification. There was an interaction between match outcome and cortisol, such that watching a loss, that is, dysphoria, was associated with particularly high cortisol concentrations. While women were more fused to the team than men, there were no other gender effects. Taken together, these findings suggest that identity fusion modulates physiological reactivity, resulting in distinct psycho-physiological profiles during stressful events.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Identity fusion, cortisol, football, physiological profiles, soccer, stress response system.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Shiramizu, Dr Victor
Authors: Newson, M., Shiramizu, V., Buhrmester, M., Hattori, W., Jong, J., Yamamoto, E., and Whitehouse, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Stress and Health
ISSN (Online):1532-2998
Published Online:14 January 2020

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