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We report a novel effect of in-group bias on a task requiring simple perceptual matching of stimuli. Football fans were instructed to associate the badges of their favorite football team (in-group), a rival team (out-group), and neutral teams with simple geometric shapes. Responses to matching in-group stimuli were more efficient, and discriminability was enhanced, as compared to out-group stimuli (rival and neutral)-a result that occurred even when participants responded only to the (equally familiar) geometric shapes. Across individuals, the in-group bias on shape matching was correlated with measures of group satisfaction, and similar results were found when football fans performed the task, in the context of both the football ground and a laboratory setting. We also observed effects of in-group bias on the response criteria in some but not all of the experiments. In control studies, the advantage for in-group stimuli was not found in an independent sample of participants who were not football fans. This indicates that there was not an intrinsic advantage for the stimuli that were "in-group" for football fans. Also, performance did not differ for familiar versus unfamiliar stimuli without in-group associations. These findings indicate that group identification can affect simple shape matching.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychon Bull Rev

Publication Date





1255 - 1277


Cognitive bias, Football fans, In-group, Out-group, Adult, Association Learning, Attention, Discrimination Learning, Humans, Male, Motivation, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Reaction Time, Recognition, Psychology, Soccer, Social Identification