Support us | Visit us | Contact us
15 August 2012Title:Increased aggression during human group contests when competitive ability is more similarAuthors:Gert Stulp, Tobias Kordsmeyer, Abraham P. Buunk, and Simon VerhulstJournal:Biology Letters
When two competing sports teams are similar in rank more fouls occur during a match according to research published in Biology Letters. The findings suggest that human conflicts escalate more when groups are more similar in competitive ability.
Using data from two professional sports (football and basketball), Gert Stulp and his team at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, found that in both sports aggression increased when the difference in rank was smaller. This has only previously been shown to be the case in individual, rather than group, conflicts.
The researchers looked at data from 1530 football matches from five seasons of the highest professional German football division and 1230 games from a season of NBA basketball. Fouls such as illegal physical contact towards other players (such as unfair tackles) were included in the data, and other illegal actions that are penalized by the referee (such as offside positioning in handball) were not included. Thus the number of fouls incurred is a good indicator of aggression during the match.
When there was no difference in rank between the football (or basketball) teams, 39.15 (or 42.36) fouls were estimated to be committed, as opposed to the average 38.76 (or 41.71) fouls. And when the highest-ranked team played the lowest-ranked team only 34.59 (40.56) fouls were estimated to be committed.
A proximate explanation for these findings is provided by Neave & Wolfson, who showed that testosterone in football players was higher before playing against self-perceived extreme rivals compared with playing against a perceived moderate rival. Thus, playing against a well-matched team may well increase the testosterone and hence the aggressiveness of the players, which results in more fouls.
Learn about our mission to expand the frontiers of knowledge.
Explore our annual science exhibition
Research published in Open Biology today identifies, for the first time, nearly all the genes required for reproduction of a cell in a living organism
The Government’s spending decisions for the financial year 2015-16 provide an important opportunity to strengthen the role of research and innovation as drivers of UK growth and competitiveness, according to the UK’s four national academies, including the Royal Society.
A paper published in Biology Letters today reveals a new species of ichthyosaur (a dolphin-like marine reptile from the age of dinosaurs) which revolutionises our understanding of their evolution and extinction.
For a full archive please see the news pages.
Latest press releases about our activities.
Announcements about articles in our journals.
There are about 1,450 Fellows and Foreign Members.
We have had 350 years at the heart of scientific progress.
Contact the Society's press team.