Sunday, February 7, 2016

This is your brain on March Madness

The Southwest Philly Floater. Dunk City.

This is your brain on March Madness

This image shows the brain of scans of college basketball fans trying to recall important plays during a 2010 Duke University study.
This image shows the brain of scans of college basketball fans trying to recall important plays during a 2010 Duke University study. Image via a 2010 Duke University study

The Southwest Philly Floater. Dunk City. Craft shooing away his teammates and draining a buzzer-beater to lift the Buckeyes. March Madness is in full swing. So are your emotions.

Daniel Wann, a psychologist who has authored or co-authored hundreds of papers (and three bookds) on the psychology of sports fandom. He spoke to The Verge about March Madness Emotional Disorder (not a real thing).

Everything Wann and his colleagues have found in their work indicates that fandom is a unique psychological and emotional phenomena. Unsurprisingly, the most committed fans have the most heightened viewing experiences. "Overall the more a fan cares, the more intense their reaction to a game is going to be, both positive and negative," Wann told The Verge.

All things considered, Wann suggests that it's surprising how mature most sports fans act.

Wann looked specifically at the characters of highly aggressive, violent, so-called "dysfunctional fans" in a 2006 study, finding that they tended to be a "less educated, lower income, younger, single, with no children at home, male who spends an inordinate amount of his time consuming sports media, and presumably, beer." These types of fans may also overlap with those who suffer from antisocial personality disorders. But they are far and away in the minority, Wann said. "It's kind of surprising that there is not more aggression in fans of the NCAA," Wann said. "Given the combination of alcohol and arousal, sports fans are amazingly well behaved."

We'll round that one up to a "W." [The Verge]

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