Emotional contagion in team sports and its impact on individual performance – an experimental study

Rust, Simone; Seiler, Roland (25 July 2013). Emotional contagion in team sports and its impact on individual performance – an experimental study. Abstracts of the ISSP 13th World Congress of Sport Psychology, pp. 76-77. Beijing: ISSP / Beijing Sport University

In sport psychology research about emotional contagion in sport teams has been scarce (Reicherts & Horn, 2008). Emotional contagion is a process leading to a specific emotional state in an individual caused by the perception of another individual’s emotional expression (Hatfield, Cacioppo & Rapson, 1994). Apitzsch (2009) described emotional contagion as one reason for collapsing sport teams. The present study examined the occurrence of emotional contagion in dyads during a basketball task and the impact of a socially induced emotional state on performance.

An experiment with between-subjects design was conducted. Participants (N=81, ♀=38, M=21.33 years, SD=1.45) were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions, by joining a confederate to compose a same gender, ad hoc team. The team was instructed to perform a basketball task as quickly as possible. The between-factor of the experimental design was the confederate’s emotional expression (positive or negative valence). The within-factor was participants’ emotional state, measured pre- and post-experimentally using PANAS (Krohne, Egloff, Kohlmann & Tausch, 1996). The basketball task was video-taped and the number of frames participants needed to complete the task was used to determine the individual performance.

The confederate’s emotional expression was appraised in a significantly different manner across both experimental conditions by participants and video raters (MC). Mixed between-within subjects ANOVAs were conducted to examine the impact of the two conditions on participants’ scores on the PANAS subscales across two time periods (pre- and post-experimental). No significant interaction effects but substantial main effects for time were found on both PANAS subscales. Both groups showed an increase in positive and a reduction in negative PANAS scores across these two time periods. Nevertheless, video raters assessment of the emotional states expressed by participants was significantly different between the positive (M=3.23, SD=0.45) and negative condition (M=2.39, SD=0.53; t=7.64, p<.001, eta squared=.43). An independent-samples t-test indicated no difference in performance between conditions. Furthermore, no significant correlation between the extent of positive or negative emotional contagion and the number of frames was observed.

The basketball task lead to an improvement of the emotional state of participants, independently of the condition. Even though participants PANAS scores indicated a tendency to emotional contagion, it was not statistically significant. This could be explained by the low task duration of approximately three minutes. Moreover, the performance of participants was unaffected by the experimental condition or the extent of positive or negative emotional contagion.

Apitzsch, E. (2009). A case study of a collapsing handball team. In S. Jern & J. Näslund (Eds.), Dynamics within and outside the lab. Proceedings from The 6th Nordic Conference on Group and Social Psychology, May 2008, Lund, pp. 35-52.
Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T. & Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotional contagion. Cambridge: University Press.
Krohne, H. W., Egloff, B., Kohlmann, C.-W. & Tausch, A. (1996). Untersuchungen mit einer deutschen Version der „Positive und Negative Affect Schedule“ (PANAS). Diagnostica, 42 (2), 139-156.
Reicherts, M. & Horn, A. B. (2008). Emotionen im Sport. In W. Schlicht & B. Strauss (Eds.), Enzyklopädie der Psychologie. Grundlagen der Sportpsychologie (Bd. 1) (S. 563-633). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Science II [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Rust, Simone and Seiler, Roland


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment


ISSP / Beijing Sport University




Roland Seiler

Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2014 15:12

Last Modified:

28 Apr 2014 16:29

Additional Information:

Electronic Version (CD ROM)

Uncontrolled Keywords:

emotional contagion, team sports, performance



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