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UT Research Helps Explain Post-World Cup Rioting

Whether you are a soccer fan or not, it has been difficult to miss news surrounding the 2014  World Cup in Brazil – especially when riot police are involved. 

Sunday, Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time to take home the trophy. Shortly afterward, in the streets of Buenos Aires, fans took out their disappointment and aggression by rioting across the city

This type of reaction isn’t new. As outlined in Tiffanie Wen’s article, “A Sociological History of Soccer Violence,” violence related to English soccer matches has been around since the 13th century, earning this particular pastime the label “football hooliganism.”

For more insight on why fans might behave in this manner, Wen quotes Assistant Professor Garriy Shteynberg from the Department of Psychology who, with Associate Professor Jeff Larsen and several others, conducted the study “Feeling More Together: Group Attention Intensifies Emotion.” 

“Our research implies that individuals in crowds will experience greater heights of emotion due to shared experience of the event,” said Shteynberg. Also, the emotion the crowd experiences is largely due to the nature of the event. Attend a mixed martial arts match and they may have a greater tendency toward violence; attend a folk music concert and they may feel more empathetic.

(More from Shteynberg and Larsen at tntoday.utk.edu.)