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Sport Fans and Sci-Fi Fanatics: The Social Stigma of Popular Media Fandom
Elizabeth L. Cohen, Anita Atwell Seate, Shaun M....
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Sport Fans and Sci-Fi Fanatics: The Social Stigma of Popular Media Fandom

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Sport Fans and Sci-Fi Fanatics: The Social Stigma of Popular Media Fandom

  1. 1. Sport Fans and Sci-Fi Fanatics: The Social Stigma of Popular Media Fandom Elizabeth L. Cohen, Anita Atwell Seate, Shaun M. Anderson, & Melissa F. Tindage • Popular media culture fandom is associated with a variety of positive psychological, social, and cultural outcomes, but people who participate in these fandoms may be socially stigmatized because of the object of their fandom • Science fiction/fantasy fans are stereotyped as geeky and overly obsessed, but behaviorally speaking, fans of popular media culture share are not much different from sports fans who engage in similar types of “fanaticism” • Stigmatization of popular media culture fandom could be more damaging to male fans than female fans because males are likely to be associated with geek images in the media, and schematically people associate science fiction/fantasy fandom with males A Double Standard for Fans • SCI-FI FANS perceived as less physically attractive (M= 3.78, SD=0.86) compared to sport fans (M=4.27, SD= 0.76), and less socially attractive (M=4.40, SD=.93) compared to sports fans (M=5.04, SD=1.02). No differences on task attractiveness. • MALE SCI-FI FANS perceived to be less physically attractive (M=3.58, SD=.89) compared to the other groups (M=4.18, SD=.78), and less socially attractive (M=4.32, SD=0.94) compared to other groups (M= 4.87, SD=1.02). No differences on task attractiveness. • FEMALE SCI-FI FANS perceived as less physically attractive (M=3.96, SE=.10), compared to female sport fans (M = 4.42, SE = .10), and less socially attractive (M =4.47, SD=.09) compared to female sports fans (M=5.19, SE =12), No differences on task attractiveness *All reported mean differences significant at p < .001 . Planned Comparison Results* • Undergraduates (N = 275) were randomly assigned to read 1 of 4 profiles of another college student and answer a survey about their impressions of that person. Profiles were identical descriptions of a fan, but varied according to the sex and type of fan described • We used a 2 (Fandom Type: Sci-fi/Fantasy; Sports) X 2 (Fan Sex: Female; Male) between-subjects experimental design to examine the influence of fandom type and fan sex on the three types of interpersonal attraction: social, physical, and task Experimental Fan Description Vignette [Abby/Allen] is 20 years old and attends a large, state university in eastern United States. This year, [she/he] is taking courses in psychology, history, biology, math, and English. [She/He] is of average height and average weight. [She/He] has brown eyes and short dark hair. [Her/His] favorite color is red. In [her/his] spare time, [she/he] enjoys playing with her Labrador Retriever puppy, listening to music, and watching television. [Abby/Allen] is a huge fan of [science and fantasy fiction stories/sports competitions]. [She/He] is enthusiastically devoted to watching and reading media about almost anything involving [science and fantasy fiction/sports]. To express [her/his] support for [her/his] favorite [stories/teams], [Abby/Allen] likes to buy souvenirs and other fan paraphernalia to decorate [her/his] house. [She/He] has even been known to wear reproductions of [her/his] favorite [characters’/players’] uniforms just for fun. [She/He] also enjoys doing things with other fans. [She/He] loves to participate in fantasy [role-playing/sports] games, and discuss [science and fantasy fiction/sports] in online discussion groups. This year, [she/he] has saved up enough money to attend a [science and fantasy fiction/sports] fan convention. The Experiment Implications • Provides experimental evidence that fan stigma is linked to the object of fandom (not fanish behavior), and there are adverse social consequences to participating in sci-fi/fantasy fandom which could lead to: • Social ostracism • Participation and STEM field gaps • Sci-fi/fantasy fan stereotype is mixed: socially undesirable but not less competent (e.g., fine to fix my computer but not friend material) • Sci-fi/fantasy fandom violates masculine norms so men are particularly stigmatized • Female fans don’t escape the stigma entirely; sports fandom rooted in masculine norms is perceived as being more socially acceptable, even if a woman is participating For More Information Email: elizabeth.cohen@mail.wvu.edu

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