Re-Examining the Role of Antecedent Orientation in Social Psychological Well-Being through Team Identification

By Clopton, Aaron W. | Journal of Contemporary Athletics, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Re-Examining the Role of Antecedent Orientation in Social Psychological Well-Being through Team Identification


Clopton, Aaron W., Journal of Contemporary Athletics


INTRODUCTION

Consumer research in sport management has long sought after the varied antecedents and outcomes of consumers of teams and sporting events. Including, namely, the attitudes and behaviors of sport consumers, a plethora of literature have focused on the psychological connection of individuals to sport teams and organizations. This psychological connection has been operationalized from identity (Wann and Branscombe, 1993), commitment (Kahle, 1996), and attachment (Funk and James, 2006), to loyalty (Pritchard, Havitz, and Howard, 1999) and allegiance (Funk and James, 2001). Because of the immense impact of the psychological connection upon numerous salient outcomes in sport, vast research efforts have examined the many social factors that influence new connections between sport teams and individuals, from acquiring or maintaining relationships with fans (e.g. Mahony, Madrigal, and Howard, 1999); including geographic location and team success (Wann, Tucker, and Schrader, 1996) and key socializing agents such as family and friends (Kolbe and James, 2000). Further, the intricacies of the connection with sport teams and organizations have also been examined, such as with the Psychological Continuum Model (Funk and James). In this model, the connection between fan and team ranges along a hierarchical arrangement including Awareness, Attraction, Attachment, and Allegiance. In the initial state of Awareness, an individual becomes aware of a team's existence, but little or no interest exists. Awareness is accomplished through media images or other socializing agents such as friends, classmates, or family members. The second stage of Attraction recognizes actual opinions, attitudes, or interests that are starting to form for a particular team or organization. This interest is often derived from social factors, hedonic motives, or situational factors salient to the specific context (Funk and James, 2001, 2006). From there, the psychological connection elevates to Attachment, where an alignment of values and attitudes exist with the team and a meaningful psychological connection is established. At Attachment, the connection enters a dynamic state and taps into the affect of the individual. There, sport teams are connected with stronger attitudinal evaluations (Funk, Haugvedt, and Howard, 2000). Finally, and in the highest level, Allegiance occurs when the connection is tested, stands the test of time, and impacts both cognition and behavior. Here, Funk et al. suggested the transition between Attachment and Allegiance is marked by attitude formation and change. Behavior impact might be noted through amounts of time and money spent on direct or indirect consumption of the particular team. At the final two stages, the individual-team relationship prospers because of the individual process-orientation, rather than earlier hedonic motives and situational factors (Funk and James). Other research efforts have suggested that lying beyond the highest levels of psychological connection would be overall team identification, where an individual begins to construct and maintain part of one's social identity with the team (e.g. Dutton, Dukerich, and Harquail, 1994; Fink, Trail, and Anderson, 2002; Wann and Branscombe, 1993).

Aside from the complex process of psychological connection between a team and an individual, past research has also explored the intention of fans to engage in this connection. Perhaps supporting a local team may satisfy one's need for belonging and provide opportunities for social interaction (Funk, Mahony, and Ridinger, 2002). Local teams may also provide a sense of community solidarity of which individuals strive to belong (Funk and James, 2006). Most motives, however, can be summated into serving either social or psychological needs of the consumer. Sloan (1989) encompassed most motives for attending sporting events under one of a number of theories: the salubrious effects theory, stress and stimulation theories, catharsis and aggression theories, entertainment theory, or achievement seeking theories. …

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