Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Psychology: Exploration of Interacting Group Identities

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Adam Smiley, Ph.D

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


It is no secret that political polarization is intensifying on both a national and local level. This polarization has even impacted personal relationships between voters (West & Iyengar, 2022). It has been indicated through research that one’s group affiliation is a strong part of their identity. Therefore, if a group membership encourages hostility toward common enemies, this hostility can create animosity and hatred in individuals. Politics, although a major arena in which outgroup hostility is observed, is not the only social group in which it is seen. Another space in which people tend to cling onto ingroup membership and therefore reject members of the outgroup is sports fandoms. But, what happens if someone engages in hostility in their sports rivalries, and then interacts with voters in the party they oppose? This potential link between negative emotions and political/sports identity has been rarely touched by research, and is what the present study seeks to investigate. In this project, involving 40 participants from Belmont University undergraduate psychology courses, researchers tasked participants to either write about an annoying task they recently completed, or tasked participants to write about a sports rivalry they subscribe to. Participants from both conditions then indicated their feelings towards their preferred party, as well as voters in the opposing party. It was hypothesized that those who were primed with discussing their sports rivalry would continue to project these hostile views of opponents when considering opposing voters. The purpose of this study was to gain a greater sense of understanding as to how negative affect regarding the outgroup of one group identity can impact the views of a different outgroup from a separate group identity. On a broader scale, this study wanted to begin to take a look into how politics, such a prevalent part of our society, can interact with sports, another prevalent part of our society. Both can have strong impacts on our sense of social identity. Data is currently being collected in this study and results will be presented at BURS on April 19, 2023.

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