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Symposium Year: 2013
Student(s): Theresa Leasure
Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Paul C. Bernhardt
Basking in reflected glory (BIRG) is a phenomenon in which people advertise that they have an affiliation with a successful other entity. This phenomenon has been observed in Facebook ‘Likes’ of pages for political candidates after elections and we hypothesized that we would see the same phenomenon with the Superbowl teams’ Facebook pages. Observing the number of Likes twice daily in the week before and after the Superbowl, we found the increase in Likes for the two days after the Superbowl was greater for the winning Baltimore Ravens than the losing San Francisco 49ers (χ2 [df = 13, N = 183312] = 7895.99, p < .001). Contrary to expectation from previous findings for BIRG, Likes increased for the 49ers after their Superbowl loss. However, this finding is consistent with an exception in the BIRG pattern in the original Cialdini et al. (1976) article. They found that one team was judged to have performed well in their non-winning effort and BIRG behaviors occurred. Journalists described the 49ers effort in the Superbowl as high quality, which may explain this unexpected occurrence in our data. Fundamentally, this study confirms BIRG behaviors occurring on Facebook, that is, virtual presence is sufficient to activate the behavior (in contrast to physical presence where BIRG has been previously observed).
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