Perceptual Biases and Behavioral Effects Among NFL Fans: An Investigation of First-Person, Second-Person, and Third-Person Effects

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John S.W. Spinda Murray State University, USA

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This study explored first-, second-, and third-person effects related to the outcome of televised National Football League (NFL) games among an online sample of NFL fans (N = 646). Overall findings indicated that first-person and second-person perceptual biases were projected toward comparison groups that were labeled as fans of other NFL teams or as the average person. In addition, support was found for both first and second-person behavioral effects in the form of postgame Basking In Reflected Glory (BIRGing) and Cutting Off Reflected Failure (CORFing) behaviors. However, the strength of NFL fans’ team identification was a more robust predictor of these effects than NFL fans self-reported BIRGing/CORFing behaviors. These findings support the hypothesis that self-enhancement processes (i.e., BIRGing/CORFing) are usurped by self-categorization processes when a social identity is made salient (i.e., NFL team identification). Areas of future research and limitations are also addressed.

The author is with the Dept. of Organizational Communication, Murray State University, Murray, KY.

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