Fei Gao

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management


Team identity has been a prevailing subject and has drawn a wide range of attention from both academia and the sport industry. The previous literature indicates that team identity had significant impact on team-related purchases, game attendance, TV viewership, loyalty, other social identities (e.g., national identity), etc. However, the majority of team identity studies were merely focused on unveiling these positive outcomes of team identity. Little is known about how team identity works on fans’ negative sentiment toward outgroup members. The purpose of this dissertation was to establish a model to measure the effect of team identity on xenophobia and ethnocentrism.

Following the practice of adverse effect of national team identity on fans’ attitude toward foreigners (Bogdanov & Heere, 2015), the author explored the negative outcomes of fans’ team identity in a national sports setting. In particular, the effect of team identity on bias toward foreigners. To that end, the author studied the directional relationships amongst team identity, national identity, national pride, xenophobia, and ethnocentrism; all of which are commonly rooted in social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) explaining individual’s psychological perception with reference to ingroup favoritism and outgroup derogation. This is the first empirical study investigating the negative outcomes of team identity in an independent model. The final sample size was 527.

The author adopted structural equation modeling to measure the proposed model. The results of this study indicated that team identity did have a dark side to it and vii significantly contributed to both ethnocentrism and xenophobia. This raises an alarm for the governments/national sports associations, who have been continuously investing in the performance of national sports teams.