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Explaining lifelong loyalty: The role of identity fusion and self-shaping group events

Newson, Martha, Buhrmester, Michael, Whitehouse, Harvey (2016) Explaining lifelong loyalty: The role of identity fusion and self-shaping group events. PloS one, 11 (8). Article Number e0160427. E-ISSN 1932-6203. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160427) (KAR id:83989)

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Pledging lifelong loyalty to an ingroup can have far-reaching behavioural effects, ranging from ordinary acts of ingroup kindness to extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice. What motivates this important form of group commitment? Here, we propose one especially potent answer to this question–the experience of a visceral sense of oneness with a group (i.e., identity fusion). In a sample of British football fans, a population in which high levels of lifelong loyalty are thought to be common, we first examined the hypothesised relationship between fusion and perceptions of lifelong loyalty to one’s club. We further explored the hypothesis that fusion and lifelong loyalty are not merely a reflection of past time investment in a group, but also reflect a deeper, memory-based process of feeling personally shaped by key group events, both euphoric and dysphoric. We found broad support for these hypotheses. Results suggest that feeling personally self-shaped by club events (e.g., crucial wins and losses), rather than time invested in the club, leads to greater identity fusion to one’s club. In turn, fusion engenders a sense of lifelong club loyalty. We discuss our findings in relation to the growing literature on the experiential origins of intense social cohesion.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160427
Uncontrolled keywords: Sports, Personality, Linear regression analysis, Reflection, Social theory, Surveys, Decision making, Perception
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Martha Newson
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2020 10:55 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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