UVa Researchers Get Work Published About Psychology of Sports Rivalries

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- All college teams have rivals.

When it comes to the University of Virginia, many will say their biggest rival is Virginia Tech.

"We play Virginia Tech at least twice a year in basketball," said Eddie Dunoyer, a second-year UVa student. "And it's a big time rivalry game. We love beating them."

Students lined up almost two hours ahead of tip-off for the Hoo's and Hokies basketball game on Tuesday night. Fans waiting in line say they were very excited for the game.

"We lost to them last time on their home court," said Deanna Madagen, a third-year UVa student. "So we are looking for some revenge this time around."

These fans aren't the only ones with this much passion about the game. Two UVA researchers recently got their article, "On Rivalry and the Goal of Pursuit: Shared competitive history, legacy concerns, and strategy selection," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"Players might be a little bit more aggressive on defense, maybe going for the blocked shot, or the steal," said David Reinhard, a UVa doctoral candidate and one of the two researchers. "If you are on offense, you might be more likely to take that three pointer. Some of these more riskier decisions all contribute to the idea of a rivalry."

Reinhard says that at the crux of the research, players care more about legacy than the individual game itself.

"When you have this increased scope of games, it gets you concerned about your legacy, and how you will be remembered," he said. "Just as games in the past still have meaning today, today is going to have meaning in the future. It changes how people pursue their goals."

Reinhard says their study looked at multiple well known rivalries, including UVa and Virginia Tech, and how players acted during and after the game.

"If players are acting extra emotional, adding emphasis on every play, those are the signs of a rivalry," he said. "They will pursue their goals in a more eager and active way, as opposed to being vigilant and cautious."

Reinhard says that they didn't connect with the UVa basketball team to share their findings, but did say many of the people interviewed for their research were members of the UVa rowing team.



 
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