The influence of team and athlete identification on sport consumer behavior and fan response to negative information
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Relatively few studies, compared with team identification, examine athlete identification. Furthermore, studies that include athlete identification define it as an extension of team identification and treat it as simply another point of attachment for fans. However, with the increase of media coverage focusing on athletes’ personal lives off-the-field as much as their performance on the field, as well as athletes curating and maintaining their personal social media accounts, it is possible for sport consumers to be a fan of an athlete without sharing the same psychological connection for the athlete’s team. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of fan identification as it applies to not only sport teams, but also athletes. First, Study 1 provided evidence that while team and athlete identification can supplement each other, they can are discrete constructs. This study was a necessary first step in exploring how team and athlete identification differ in terms of predicting the attitudes and behaviors of sport consumers. Second, Study 2 tested how various levels of team and athlete identification influence how sport consumers respond to negative information about the team or athlete. Prior research in sport management and marketing literature largely overlook the influence of athlete identification. Moreover, there also remains limited empirical research examining the direct impact of negative information and sport scandals on the team- and athlete-related consumer behavior of sport consumers. Findings from Study 1 provide evidence that team and athlete identification predict different attitudes and behaviors and support the need to incorporate athlete identification, in addition to team identification, in future research. Findings from Study 2 contribute to research on the impact of negative information and scandals with evidenced-based support that sport consumers with various levels of team and athlete identification respond differently to negative information involving the team or athlete.
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