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Sports Fans and Magical Thinking: How Supernatural Thinking Connects Fans to Teams

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 Department of Communication, University of California Davis, USA
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Magical thinking describes beliefs and reasoning processes that defy generally accepted principles of logic and causality. Researchers have identified a link between strength of identification with a favorite sports team and superstition, an expression of magical thinking. Research on fans of fictional narratives has suggested magical thinking more broadly may play a role in being a fan. The authors posed the question, what is the link between sports fanship and two specific types of magical thinking: magical ideation and sympathetic magic? In a survey of 214 adults, relationships between strength of sports fanship and magical ideation, sympathetic magic in a sports context, and sympathetic magic generally were explored. Belief in sympathetic magic with regard to sports figures was found to be prominent among sports fans. In addition, a positive relationship was observed between strength of sports fanship and strength of belief in both sympathetic magic generally and magical ideation. Implications are discussed in terms of recruitment of and marketing to potential and existing fans.

Taylor (lartaylor@ucdavis.edu) is corresponding author.

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