Tag Archives: Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies win and mob psychology

Congratulations to the Phillies. They stayed focused after 46 hours of delay to win the World Series. It was fun that the game last night lasted only 3 more innings. I let my boys stay up to watch it and so the weird rain-delay suspension worked in their favor. I’ve thought that MLB was doing a disservice to their future fans by having the games so late here in the East.

This morning I heard reports of hooliganism: cars overturned, windows smashed, and other destructive behavior. Likely the number of violent and criminal actors were small and similar to other cities that win national championships. Normal maybe, but it does raise the question as to WHY do individuals engage in violence as a means to celebrate their team?

So, I got on my PsychInfo database to see what I could find on the topic.

Not surprisingly, most of the literature is about European and South American soccer matches. It seems that English hooligans are seen as the worst. But, I found little in the way of helpful information to get to the psychology of mob violence after sporting wins. But I did find these little tidbits:

1. Intergroup relationships that increase a common identity serve to establish group power and a sense of legitimacy. Hence why most of Broad Street was impassable. Individuals by the thousands hung out on the street with no sense to make room for cars. They felt they had a legitimate right to be in the street and the power to be there even when cars might need to get through.

2. The higher the profile of policing, the higher risk of disorder. Hmmm. Seems the more police appear in para-military or riot-gear the more fans feel aggressive. The flip side was found true in 2004 in Europe. Lower profile policing seems to build the sense that the police and the fans share the same goal: celebration. Hmmm again. Maybe this is why when I become more authoritarian in the home, I get less cooperation.

3. The pathway to violence may be this: winning plus alcohol = increased aggression. Apparently, losing does not increase violent behaviors. Winning doesn’t dramatically increase happiness (so the study found) but does increase aggressiveness.

By in large, this is an understudied phenomenon. Someone developed an incomprehensible “Elaborated Social Identity Model of Crowd Behavior” but it wasn’t particularly helpful to my questions.

I guess one of my problems is that I am not attracted to crowds of any kind and so mob celebrations whether at an official parade or after a game make me want to run. Just watching the crowd last night on TV made me feel a bit claustrophobic.


Filed under Identity, Psychology