Social Mobility and Team Allegiance in Highly Identified Football Fans

Matthew Lewis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives: Social identity theory suggests that individuals strive for membership in positive groups. If the group’s evaluation by others is particularly unfavourable, an individual may try to leave the group and join one which enjoys a more positive evaluation. However, recent studies show that football fans may be relatively impervious to external evaluations of their team. The present study was thus designed to investigate perceptions of social mobility to another team among highly identified fans. Design: An online questionnaire was developed in which participants answered questions about team and group identity, changing allegiance to another team, and the circumstances in which they think this is acceptable. Method: 256 participants were recruited by placing links to an internet questionnaire on supporters’ websites and message boards. The questionnaire contained 86 items, most of which were answered on a 1-7 Likert-format scale. Results: The results suggested that fans with high group identification rated fans who changed team allegiance significantly less trustworthy and reasonable, and more self-centred, than fans who were lower in group identity. Fans with high group identification also rated their partner, children, career and money significantly less important, whilst their football team was rated significantly more important. Conclusions: Football fans’ identification with their fellow group of fans may become so incorporated into self identity that supporters may not have the option of abandoning their team, but instead are creative in evaluating their fellow set of fans in a more positive light.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008
Event2008 Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology Inaugural Conference - London
Duration: 11 Dec 2008 → …


Conference2008 Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology Inaugural Conference
Period11/12/08 → …


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