An experiment was conducted to test the generality of a self-evaluation maintenance model of behavior in a situation involving individuals’ associations with a group. Male and female undergraduates completed a sports team questionnaire, which assessed their preferences to see both psychologically close and distant opponents of their home team win in high-relevance (football) and low-relevance (water polo) sports contests. As predicted from the model, participants preferred psychologically close opponents to win more in the low- than in the high-relevance sport, but preferred psychologically distant opponents to win more in the high- than in the low-relevance sport. Participants also preferred close opponents to win more than distant opponents. Implications for group identification and reference-group influences are discussed.
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