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Journal Article

Citation

Branscombe NR, Wann DL. Aggressive Behav. 1992; 18(2): 85-93.

Copyright

(Copyright © 1992, International Society for Research on Aggression, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)

DOI

unavailable

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

Exposure to sports competitions, especially those involving violence, can elevate physiological arousal, potentially setting the stage for transforming hostile inclinations into aggressive behavior. Personality and cognitive factors that influence the interpretation given to such competitions may influence the impact of these events. The effects of exposure to a sporting competition that had high or low importance for subjects' social identity on pre- to post-film blood pressure and evaluations of outgroups were examined. Aggression may be particularly likely when arousal levels are elevated, and such arousal was expected to be determined by the importance of the identity at stake, regardless of the outcome of the competition. Individuals who were either strongly identified with America or were less identified viewed a boxing match where the American athlete lost the competition (and the Russian contestant won), or the Russian athlete lost (and the American won). Both diastolic and systolic blood pressure measures showed an increase pre- to post-film in the highly identified persons while no such change was observed in the low identified individuals. Cognitive measures assessing evaluations of the Russian boxer, and Russians in general, showed effects parallel to the arousal indexes with high identified persons expressing more derogation of threat-relevant targets than did those low in identification. Arousal increases in only the highly identified viewers predicted derogation of Russians. Discussion centers on the role of identification with a sports team on physiological processes and their implications for spectator aggression.

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