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Spectator Booing and the Home Advantage: A Study of Social Influence in the Basketball Arena

Donald L. Greer
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 46, No. 3 (Sep., 1983), pp. 252-261
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033796
Page Count: 10
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Spectator Booing and the Home Advantage: A Study of Social Influence in the Basketball Arena
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Abstract

In a quasi-experimental field study one possible social origin of the home advantage (HA) in sports was examined. College basketball games were attended by investigators who used a behavior observation technique to isolate blocks of game time immediately following instances of sustained spectator protest. For both home and visiting teams four measures of performance occurring during these "postbooing" periods were compared with performance during normal crowd conditions. Analyses of variance on scoring, turnover, foul, and composite performance rates revealed that episodes of spectator protest were related to an increase in the performance advantages enjoyed by home teams. Subsequent to crowd protest there were slight improvements in the performance indicators of home teams, paralleled by more significant declines for visiting teams. These declines were statiscally significant for two of the four dependent variables-fouls committed, and composite performance. Two competing interpretations of these results were considered at length, and the conclusion that crowd noise had inhibited the performance quality of visiting teams was favored over the alternative interpretation that the judgment of game referees had been influenced. In either case, the data, appeared to be consistent with the belief that collective protest by sports crowds is an effective type of social support which can contribute significantly to the HA.

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