I don’t know much about sociology and psychology, other then the little bit I have to use for my job. However, this study on pride really caught my attention.
“Our results suggest that hubristic, pompous displays of group pride might actually be a sign of group insecurity as opposed to a sign of strength,” said researcher Cynthia Pickett, associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis.
Basically, there are two types of pride: true pride, that which is shown by people who are part of a group that they love and have real confidence in, but don’t feel they have to brag about how good they are; and hubristic pride, a false arrogance that illustrates insecurities about one’s group. Participants in the study were asked to relate experiences in their lives after a big win by a favorite sports team, about sources of pride in their ethnic group, or an achievement such as meeting a big fund raising goal. They were then asked to what extent they would use words to describe themselves during these events. The use of certain words such as “pompus” and “smug” were used to illustrate hubristic pride and words like “accomplished” and “confident” were used to illustrate authentic pride. The subjects were then asked to answer questions about the internally and externally perceived status of the group.
“It turns out, people who have the hubristic collective pride in their group, underlying it all is an insecurity about whether the group is good enough, really,” said researcher Jessica Tracy, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia.
How does that apply to football fans?
The results showed that groups in which individuals boasted and gloated — a sign of hubristic pride — tended to have low social status or they were vulnerable to threats from other groups. So the worse the person felt about their group’s status as well as how badly they thought the public viewed the group, the more likely that member would experience that empty, boastful pride.
In contrast, those groups that expressed pride by humbly focusing on members’ efforts and hard work tended to have high social standing in both the public and personal eyes.
Hubristic pride can rear its ugly head in both small groups like sports teams…
When groups of fans make hyperbolic statements about the group’s or their players’ standing in the world, it is a sign of underlying insecurity. When they feel threatened by the perceived social stature of their group, the rhetoric is dialed to another level. For example, much worry was wasted over the trip to Baton Rouge last week over the fear that the typical LSU experience would raise its ugly head. There was a difference in both quality and quantity over the expected experience and the actual experience. Maybe the national championship last year finally exorcised those insecurity demons and the new LSU experience is typical now, due to the fan base’s sense of standing vis a vis other programs.
Next, the researchers hope to figure out whether or not the boasting and false pride works to make others perceive the group as having higher power and status.
I’m going out on a limb here and saying no, but I warned you I don’t know much about psychology or sociology.