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Fans’ causal attributions for a game outcome refer to their assessments of the underlying reasons for why things turned out as they did. We investigate the extent to which team identification moderates fans’ attributional responses to a game outcome so as to produce a self-serving bias that favors the preferred team. Also explored is the ability of team identification to mediate the effect of attributions on the summary judgments of basking in reflected glory (BIRG) and satisfaction with the team’s performance. Consistent with a self-serving bias, we found that highly identified fans were more likely to attribute a winning effort to stable and internal causes than were lowly identified fans. Moreover, the extremity of response between winners and losers was greater among highly identified fans than lowly identified fans. Team identification was also found to mediate the influence of (a) stability on BIRGing and (b) internal control on BIRGing. No such mediation effects were observed in the case of satisfaction. Managerial implications are discussed.
Madrigal and Chen are with the Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1208.