Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Relationship between Sport Team Identification and Social Well-Being: Additional Evidence Supporting the Team Identification-Social Psychological Health Model

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Relationship between Sport Team Identification and Social Well-Being: Additional Evidence Supporting the Team Identification-Social Psychological Health Model

Article excerpt

The current study tested three predictions generated from Wann's (2004) Team Identification--(Social) Psychological Health Model. Specifically, it was hypothesized that social well-being would be a) positively related to identification with a local sport team, b) not related to identification with a distant team, and c) not related to mere sport fandom. The current investigation expanded on previous research by assessing social well-being through participants' satisfaction with their social life (and their collective self-esteem) and by using regression analyses simultaneously examining the impact of the three predictor variables on social psychological health. Results from 155 university students confirmed expectations and substantiated Wann's model. Discussion includes suggestions for future research.

Sport team identification concerns the extent to which a fan feels a psychological connection to a team or player (see Wann, Melnick, Russell, & Pease, 2001). In recent years, Wann and his associates have presented evidence that level of identification with a local team is positively related to psychological health. For instance, Branscombe and Wann (1991) found a positive relationship between identification and personal self-esteem (i.e., one's critical evaluations of his or her personal characteristics) and the frequency of experiencing positive emotions while identification was negatively correlated with depression, alienation, and frequency of experiencing negative emotions. Wann (1994) extended these findings by demonstrating that identification was positively correlated with collective (i.e., social) self-esteem (i.e., one's critical evaluations of his or her groups). Additional findings are reported by Wann, Inman, Ensor, Gates, and Caldwell (1999) and Wann, Dunham, Byrd, and Keenan (2004). Wann et al. (1999) found that identification was positively correlated with self-esteem and vigor (i.e., energy) and negatively related to fatigue, anger, tension, confusion, and depression. Wann et al. (2004) examined the relationship between team identification and well-being through scores on the NEO PI-R questionnaire (Costa & MaCrae, 1992). They found that identification with a local team was positively related to extroversion, openness, and conscientiousness, a pattern consistent with psychological health.

This body of literature led Wann (2004) to develop the Team Identification--Psychological Health Model. This model offers three predictions. First, psychological well-being is predicted to be positively related to identification with a local sport team. This prediction, supported by the aforementioned literature, is based on the notion that identifying with a local team will result in valued social relationships and a sense of connectedness with society. Certainly, it is well-established that social connections via group memberships are important for well-being (Cohen & Wills, 1985; Hogg & Abrams, 1990; Mael & Ashforth, 2001) and sport fandom may serve as one such group (Melnick, 1993; Smith, 1988, 1989). The second prediction derived from the model is that identification with a distant team will not result in well-being benefits because they do not readily result in connections with others. Third, mere sport fandom will not be related to psychological health because this will also fail to result in meaningful relationships. Similar to prediction 1, these latter two hypotheses have strong empirical support (e.g., Wann et al., 2004; Wann et al., 1999).

Wann, Dimmock, and Grove (in press) were able to extend the generalizability of the Team Identification--Psychological Health Model by examining fans from a different culture (i.e., non North American). In this research investigating the well-being of Australian sport fans, support was found for each of the three predictions. However, Wann and his associates concluded that, consistent with previous work (e.g., Wann et al., 2004) identification with a local sport team appears to be more strongly related to social aspects of well-being (such as loneliness) than personal components of psychological health (such as stress). …

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