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Basking in reflected glory (BIRGing) is a self-serving cognition whereby an individual associates himself with successful other such that another’s success becomes their own.[1]

One of the most influential studies of this phenomenon was done by Robert Cialdini in 1976, in which it was demonstrated that the undergraduate students of six different universities were more likely to wear their university affiliated apparel the Monday morning after a victorious football weekend and that they were more likely to use the pronoun "we" after a successful athletic weekend than if their team had lost. The students sought to have the success of the team linked to them by wearing school-identified apparel.[2] The term used for the behavior exhibited by supporters of the losing team is cutting off reflected failure.

Roots of BIRGing

BIRGing is rooted in social identity theory, which explains how self-esteem and self-evaluation can be enhanced by the identification with another person’s success by basking in reflected glory not earned. The social identity theory states that people are motivated to behave in ways that maintain and boost their self esteem. Having high self esteem is typically a perception of oneself as attractive, competent, likable and morally good person. These attributes make the person more attractive to the outside social world and making it more desirable for others to be in positive relationships with them. BIRGing is a widespread and important impression management technique to counter any threats to self esteem and maintain positive relations with others.

Role of Deindividuation

Another equally important contributing influence is deindividuation, a psychological state characterized by partial or complete loss of self-awareness, diffused responsibility, and decreased concern about our own behavior resulting in the abandonment of norms, restraints and inhibitions. Deindividuation involves a loss of self-awareness which is essentially the degree to which one’s attention is focused on the self, resulting in comparisons against meaningful standards. When spectators’ become deindividuated, their self-awareness plummets and they cease comparing their behavior against these standards, the consequence being increased responsively to situational forces. Without the comparison process of self-awareness, people’s behavior is more likely to be inconsistent with their attitudes.

References

  1. ^ Aronson, W. A. (2007). Social Psychology 6th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
  2. ^ Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. (1976). “Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies.” ‘‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology’’, 34, 366-375.
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