Group norms involve yelling and cheering. Note that this doesn’t always lead to bad behavior – witness the Japan and Senegal fans clearing up their litter after their recent match.
Football fever is once again sweeping the globe. People’s behavior during the World Cup is very interesting for us psychologists, as we can see many examples of the theories we use in action. Here are five questions you might ask during the tournament – and how psychology would answer them:
1. Why do people suddenly “get into” football during the World Cup, when usually they’re not interested?
This change in attitudes has to do with a change in our social identity. Social identities are aspects of our personality that relate in some way to our social surroundings, for example, our nationality, the organization we work for, or a club we are members of. People are usually nicer towards people that share their social identity (the “ingroup”), and tend to be meaner to those that don’t (the “outgroup”) even if they know nothing else about those people. This happens even if you split people up based on really trivial things such as which artist they prefer.
2. Why do people cheer and yell during a match in a way they never normally would?
The presence of others around you can lead to “deindividuation”. This is where you blend into a crowd and become anonymous, something particularly likely to happen if everyone is wearing the same football strip.
Deindividuation means you are more likely to act in a way appropriate to the norms of the group rather than your own norms. In a football crowd, those norms involve yelling and cheering. Note that this doesn’t always lead to bad behavior – witness the Japan and Senegal fans clearing up their litter after their recent match.
By: Chris Stiff