The Development of Basking in Reflected Glory BIRGing) and Cutting off Reflected Failure (CORFing) Measures

By Spinda, John S. W. | Journal of Sport Behavior, December 2011 | Go to article overview

The Development of Basking in Reflected Glory BIRGing) and Cutting off Reflected Failure (CORFing) Measures


Spinda, John S. W., Journal of Sport Behavior


The impression management process leads individuals to strategically associate themselves with successful others, even those they have minimal connections with, as a form of positive self-presentation (Cialdini & DeNicholas, 1989). Conversely, individuals tend to distance themselves from others that do not succeed to maintain self-esteem (Cialdini, Finch, & DeNicholas, 1989). Among sport fans, these self-presentation techniques have been labeled basking in reflected glory (BIRG) / cutting off reflected failure (CORF) by a number of scholars (Bizman & Yinon, 2002; Cialdini & Richardson, 1980; Cialdini et al., 1976; End, DietzUhler, Harrick & Jacquemotte, 2002; Hirt, Zillman, Erikson, & Kennedy, 1992). Basking in reflected glory has been conceptualized as "the public trumpeting of the association" one has with a successful other (Cialdini et al., 1976, p. 366). Conversely, cutting off reflected failure has been defined as the "severing of associations with others who have failed, in the interest of avoiding a negative evaluation by others (and oneself)" (Snyder, Lassegard, & Ford, 1986, p. 383).

BIRGing and CORFing are conceptually rooted in Attribution Theory and Heider's (1958) theory of cognitive balance, although some scholars have proposed otherwise (c.f., Dalakas, Madrigal, & Anderson, 2004; Hirt et al., 1992). It has been argued that individuals employ the BIRGing and CORFing processes to serve the need for "balance", as fans of winning entities tend to internalize success while fans of losing entities tend externalize failure (Bernache-Assollant, Lacassagne, & Braddock, 2007; Burger, 1985; Cialdini et al., 1976). While BIRGing and CORFing behaviors have been parsimoniously defined, they have yet to be operationally defined into comprehensive empirical measures. Therefore, this study aimed to create a selfreport measure of BIRGing and CORFing behaviors among sport fans.

Basking in reflective glory/Cutting off reflective failure research

Scholars have explored sport fans and their attributional biases for quite some time. Hastorfand Cantril (1954) asked Dartmouth and Princeton students to describe a football game between the two institutions. They found that student respondents from Dartmouth, which won the contest, described the game as "rough but fair". On the other hand, Princeton student respondents described the game as "rough and dirty". A majority of Princeton students implied that an injury to a star player on their team was intentionally caused; whereas, 10% of Dartmouth students agreed with this assessment. Mann (1974) found similar results among Australian soccer fans. Supporters of a losing team suggested that the outcome of a soccer match could be attributed to external factors, such as poor officiating (e.g., too many free kicks) and the aforementioned "rough play". Meanwhile, supporters of the winning team suggested the outcome resulted from superior skill and effort: an internal attribution of their team. Likewise, sport journalists have been found to use internal and external attributions to describe the outcome of professional sporting events (Lau, 1984; Lau & Russell, 1980). More recently, Wann and Dolan (1994) suggested that sport team identification leads to the use of attributional biases to account for their favorite teams' victories and defeats.

As noted above, one way that sport fan attributions, and the attributions of other highly identified groups, have manifested themselves is through the BIRGing and CORFing processes. Evidence of BIRGing behavior has been observed via higher levels of institution related apparel at universities with successful football teams (Cialdini et al., 1976), more sport team-related internet use (Boen, Vanbeselaere, & Feys, 2002; End, 2001; Joinson, 2000), more positive descriptions of an attended university (i.e., "boosting) combined with negative descriptions (i.e., "blasting") of rival universities (Cialdini & Richardson, 1980), a higher propensity to leave posters visible after a election victory (Boen, Vanbeselaere, Pandelaere, et al. …

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