A brief typology of fan psychology

Professor Simon Chadwick

Posted: July 3, 2014

Tagged: consumers / fans / psychology / teams

In a Twitter dialogue yesterday (check my timeline for details @Prof_Chadwick), several academics discussed fan psychology and the types of fans one might encounter (either inside a stadium or elsewhere).

From a business and management perspective, there are many reasons why fan psychology is important. For instance, when designing marketing programmes, clubs, national associations and event organisers should have a sense of how fans (consumers) react to different situations.

To illustrate further, consider the case of Manchester City and the team’s relegation from the Premier League in 1998. In such cases, one would normally expect to see the average attendance figures for games the following season falling. In City’s case, during the 1998/1999 season average attendance figures actually rose.

As a brief introductory guide therefore, the acronyms mentioned during the aforementioned Twitter exchange are explained below. Further posts on this subject should appear here next week.



Basking-In Reflected Glory

Meaning: a fan feels good and seeks to take advantage of this feeling when ‘their’ team wins

What a fan might say: “United won 3-0 today, I am going to wear my United shirt tonight when I go out”



Cutting-Off from Reflected Failure

Meaning: a fan feels bad and seeks to dissociate themselves when ‘their’ team loses

What a fan might say: “that bunch are nothing to do with me, that wasn’t my team out there today”



Basking-In Reflected Failure

Meaning:  a fan feels good and seeks to take advantage of this feeling when ‘their’ team loses

What a fan might say: “Always propping-up the league, it’s what we do best”



Cutting-Off from Reflected Success

Meaning: a person takes action to avoid being viewed by others as a ‘fair weather’ fan

What a fan might say: “Great to see them win the title, but I’ve been to games all over the country and paid-out good money to see them lose on a wet Wednesday night in the middle of winter”



Glory Out of Reflected Failure

Meaning: a fan derives satisfaction and happiness from watching another team lose

What a fan might say: “You can always count on United – I love it when they lose”



Cutting-Off from Future Failure

Meaning: a fan distances them self from ‘their’ team in anticipation of future failure

What a fan might say: “It’s great that we’ve won promotion, but we’ll probably go straight back down next season”


Which one describes you? Or have you exhibited all of these  characteristics at some stage in the past?

May be it’s simply the case that you are a BLASTER, someone who uses derogatory outgroup comments to improve their ingroup standing: “City may have won the league, but at least we (Rovers) didn’t buy the title”.

So, next time you are watching ‘your’ team, be aware that your psychology is dictating how you might respond to the result of the game you are watching.


About Professor Simon Chadwick

Professor Simon Chadwick set-up and edits The Scorecard. He is Director of CIBS (Centre for the International Business of Sport) at Coventry University, where he works as Professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing.  Simon tweets via Prof_Chadwick