Four studies tested the existence of a social norm that one cannot simultaneously support two competing groups or teams. Our evolved coalitional psychology should be sensitive to individuals expressing mixed loyalties between rivals, as they represent substantial threats for defection. Study 1 manipulated confederate attire and demonstrated that public displays of mixed loyalty provoked more attention and reactions than displays of consistent loyalty (n = 1327). Informants (n = 31) in the same population interviewed for study 2 agreed with the norm and cited the norm violation as the cause of reactions. Study 3 provided a more systematic and comprehensive assessment of affective and cognitive reactions to mixed and matching loyalty displays with an on-line survey of participants (n = 325) in the respective states of the rival universities. Study 4 examined naturalistic reactions (n = 318) to social media advertisements suggesting mixed loyalty to the two rival teams featured in the first three studies. These diverse methodologies provided convergent confirmatory evidence for the proposed social norm.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Alexander, R. D. (1979). Darwinism and human affairs. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Aron, A., Aron, E., & Smollan, D. (1992). Inclusion of other in the self scale and the structure of interpersonal closeness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 596–612.
Atran, S. (2003). The genesis of suicide terrorism. Science, 299, 1534–1539.
Baumeister, R. F., & Sommer, K. L. (1997). What do men want? Gender differences and the two spheres of belongingness. Psychological Bulletin, 122, 38–44.
Bernhard, H., Fischbacher, U., & Fehr, E. (2006). Parochial altruism in humans. Nature, 442, 912–915.
Bieler, D. (2014). Watching kids play for both sides of Bears-Lions game? Fuller parents have the perfect jersey. The Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2014/11/26/watching-kids-play-for-both-sides-of-bears-lions-game-fuller-parents-have-the-perfect-jersey/.
Boehm, C. (1999). Hierarchy in the forest. London: Harvard University Press.
Bogardus, E. S. (1924). Fundamentals of social psychology. New York: Century.
Brewer, M. B. (1979). Ingroup bias in the minimal intergroup situation: A cognitive-motivational analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 307–324.
Campitelli, E. (2017). Mama Kelce created an Eagles-Chiefs’ mashup jersey to support both Jason and Travis. NBC Sports. Retrieved from: http://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/the700level/mama-kelce-created-eagles-chiefs-mashup-jersey-support-both-jason-and-travis.
Chagnon, N. A. (1988). Life histories, blood revenge, and warfare in a tribal population. Science, 239, 985–992.
Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. R. (1976). Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 366–375. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2066.
Crowther, N. B. (2007). Sport in ancient times. Westport: Praeger.
Deaner, R. O., Balish, S. M., & Lombardo, M. P. (2016). Sex differences in sports interest and motivation: An evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 10, 73–97.
Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1989). Human ethology. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Ekman, P. (1992). An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 169–200.
Emmanuel, G. (2004). The 100-yard war: Inside the 100-year-old Michigan–Ohio State football rivalry. Hoboken: Wiley.
End, C. M., Dietz-Uhler, B., Harrick, E. A., & Jacquemotte, L. (2002). Identifying with winners: A reexamination of sport fans’ tendency to BIRG. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 1017–1030.
Fahim, K. (2018). As Saudi Arabia relaxes its controls on culture and entertainment, artists dream—and worry. Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/as-saudi-arabia-eases-controls-on-culture-and-entertainment-artists-dream%2D%2Dand-worry/2018/01/10/d480874c-e42c-11e7-a65d-1ac0fd7f097e_story.html.
Goldstein, J. (2003). War and gender: How gender shapes the war system and vice versa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Goodall, J. (1990). Through a window: My thirty years with the chimpanzees of Gombe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Gordon, J. (2017). Mathias Pogba and mum Yeo wear half-and-half shirts in support of brothers Paul and Florentin during Europa League clash. The Sun. Retrieved from: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/2883834/mathias-pogba-and-mum-yeo-wear-half-and-half-shirts-in-support-of-brothers-paul-and-florentin-during-europa-league-clash/.
Jackson, J. (1965). Structural characteristics of norms. In I. D. Steiner & M. Fishbein (Eds.), Current studies in social psychology (pp. 301–309). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Jansen, S. C., & Sabo, D. (1994). The sport/war metaphor: Hegemonic masculinity, the Persian Gulf War, and the New World Order. Sociology of Sport Journal, 11, 1–17.
Keeley, L. (1996). War before civilization. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kenrick, D. T., Li, N. P., & Butner, J. (2003). Dynamical evolutionary psychology: Individual decision rules and emergent social norms. Psychological Review, 110, 3–28.
Kruger, D. J., Wang, X. T., & Wilke, A. (2007). Towards the development of an evolutionarily valid domain-specific risk-taking scale. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 570–583.
Kruger, D.J., & Kruger, J.S. (2015). An ethological assessment of allegiance to rival universities in an intermediate city. Human Ethology Bulletin, 30, 21–29. https://doi.org/10.22330/heb/321/017-028.
Kurzban, R., & Leary, M. R. (2001). Evolutionary origins of stigmatization: The functions of social exclusion. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 187–208.
Lindquist, D. C. (2006). “Locating the nation”: Football game day and American dreams in central Ohio. Journal of American Folklore, 119, 444–488.
Manson, J. H., & Wrangham, R. W. (1991). Intergroup aggression in chimpanzees and humans. Current Anthropology, 32, 369–390.
Ostrom, T. M., & Sedikides, C. (1992). The outgroup homogeneity effect in natural and minimal groups. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 536–552.
Palmer, C. T., & Tilley, C. F. (1995). Sexual access to females as a motivation for joining gangs: An evolutionary approach. Journal of Sex Research, 32, 213–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499509551792.
Pemberton, M. B., Insko, C. A., & Schopler, J. (1996). Memory for and experience of differential competitive behavior of individuals and groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 953–966.
Piacentini, M., & Mailer, G. (2004). Symbolic consumption in teenagers’ clothing choices. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 3, 251–262.
Reiss, M. (2015). The best story of Patriots-Titans week? No doubt, it’s ‘Mama McCourty.’ ESPN. Retrieved from: http://www.espn.com/blog/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4788816/the-best-story-of-patriots-titans-week-no-doubt-its-mama-mccourty.
Richardson, B., & O’Dwyer, E. (2003). Football supporters and football team brands: A study in consumer brand loyalty. Irish Marketing Review, 16, 43–52.
Ruffle, B. J., & Sosis, R. (2006). Cooperation and the in-group-out-group bias: A field test on Israeli kibbutz members and city residents. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 60, 147–163.
Scalise Sugiyama, M., Mendoza, M., & White, F. (2016). Assembling the CIA module: Coalitional play fighting in forager societies. Poster presented at the annual meetings of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, Vancouver, BC.
Schaller, M., Park, J. H., & Faulkner, J. (2003). Prehistoric dangers and contemporary prejudices. European Review of Social Psychology, 14, 105–137.
Sherif, M. (1966). In common predicament: Social psychology of intergroup conflict and cooperation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Symons, D. (1978). Play and aggression: A study of rhesus monkeys. New York: Columbia University Press.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 33–47). Monterey: Brooks/Cole.
Trice, H. M., & Beyer, J. M. (1984). Studying organizational culture through rites and ceremonials. Academy of Management Review, 9, 653–669.
van der Dennen, J. M. G. (2002). Evolutionary theories of warfare in preindustrial foraging societies. Neuroendocrinology Letters, 23(supplement 4), 55–65.
Van Vugt, M. (2009). Sex differences in intergroup competition, aggression, and warfare. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1167, 124–134.
Van Vugt, M., De Cremer, D., & Janssen, D. P. (2007). Gender differences in cooperation and competition: The male-warrior hypothesis. Psychological Science, 18, 19–23.
Wang, X. T., Kruger, D. J., & Wilke, A. (2009). Life-history variables and risk-taking propensity. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30, 77–84.
Wetherell, M. (1982). Cross-cultural studies of minimal groups: implications for the social identity theory of intergroup relations. In H. Tajfel (Ed.), Social identity and intergroup relations (pp. 207–240). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilkerson, S. J. (1991). Then they were sacrificed: The ritual ballgame of northeastern Mesoamerica through time and space. In V. Scarborough & D. R. Wilcox (Eds.), The Mesoamerican Ballgame (pp. 129–144). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Winegard, B., & Deaner, R. O. (2010). The evolutionary significance of Red Sox Nation: Sport fandom as a byproduct of coalitional psychology. Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 432–446.
Wrangham, R., & Peterson, D. (1996). Demonic males: Apes and the origins of human violence. London: Bloomsbury.
Zillmann, D., Bryant, J., & Sapolsky, B. S. (1989). Enjoyment from sports spectatorship. In J. H. Goldstein (Ed.), Sports, games, and play: Social and psychological viewpoints (2nd ed., pp. 241–278). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Conflict of Interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
We thank the University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program for support of this project. We thank Anne K. Gordon for assistance with participant recruitment.
About this article
Cite this article
Kruger, D.J., Day, M.M., Duan, A. et al. You Can’t Root for Both Teams!: Convergent Evidence for the Unidirectionality of Group Loyalty. Evolutionary Psychological Science 5, 199–212 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-018-0178-0
- Intergroup perception
- Evolutionary psychology
- Observational methods