Sports Fan Science Part IV

By Marc Resnick:


There was a chapter that I thought was really interesting regarding what it said about different motivations for different people.  This leads to different emotional responses based on how a sports event progresses.

For example, if you are a fan because of a need for self-esteem/self-identity/achievement, then a win makes you feel really good and a loss makes you feel really bad.  No duh, you say?  Well think about these other examples.

If you are a sports fan because of a need for stimulation, then you feel really good from a close game and not from a blowout.  It is less important who wins.  If you also have one of the above, you want a close game and a win.

If you are a sports fan because of a need for an outlet of aggression, then you get a lot our of rivalry games and less out of less relevant games like interleague in baseball.  If the players get into fights or other aggressive behaviors, you get your outlet.

If you are a sports fan because of a need for social interaction, then it matters more how many people you are watching the game with and how excited they get.  The actual game becomes less important, regardless of whether it’s close or not or who wins.

Some people have more than one motivation for being a sports fan, but some are dominated by one of these motivations and therefore have different reactions to different games.  Two people can watch the same game, cheering for the same team, and one feels really good afterwards and the other doesn’t.

Again, you may ask why I am posting this on the IIEblogs.  Well, motivation is critical for managing the workforce.  Understanding different motivations is critical to be a good leader.  This same kind of analysis needs to be done on your team and then you need to differentiate the incentives and motivations you offer to each person depending on what will get them to be the most productive.

For example, there is a lot of research showing that financial and competitive incentives are good for people doing individual physical labor or rote cognitive tasks.   But they are counterproductive when creativity and/or teamwork is needed.  And some people are more motivated by financial incentives than other people are.   Some people are more motivated by competition than other people are.  Knowing the difference can make you a much better manager.