Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Frederick Grieve (Director), Pitt Derryberry, Anthony Paquin

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Since automatic attention is given to beauty, and appearance is the first thing noticed upon meeting a person, one would assume attractiveness is the more important selection factor for a relationship partner. Theories such as the matching hypothesis and mortality salience dispute this idea. The matching hypothesis proposes selection occurs between individuals similar in attractiveness, not necessarily selecting the most attractive individual available. Mortality salience suggests attractiveness is used in selecting a partner for short-term relationships, but discounts physical attractiveness for long-term relationships. This theory proposes an ideal partner for a long-term relationship is selected based on similarity of beliefs. Mortality salience is centered on beliefs of religious groups, with which individuals can become highly identified. Individuals can also become highly identified with a sport team. This connection can be even stronger than the connection with a religious group. Since this connection is so strong, and identification with a religious group can influence selecting a partner, identification with a sport team might have a similar influence. This study attempts to bridge the gap from attraction and dating to sport fan identification. The first hypothesis is sport fans highly identified with the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team will rate a model fan for that team as more attractive than a model fan from a rival team. The second hypothesis is those fans will rate the model fan for the University of Kentucky’s basketball team as more attractive when prompted with a long-term relationship condition as opposed to a short term condition. Participants in this study completed demographics before being randomly assigned an opposite sex dating profile page. They were informed the website they were evaluating was either for people looking for long-term or short-term relationships. They completed a questionnaire about their opinion of the person in the profile, and the Sport Spectator Identification Scale for both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville men’s basketball teams. The hypotheses and previous research were not supported. This study did produce other interesting findings. The additional findings lend some support to the sociometer theory proposing self-esteem as an important relationship factor.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology | Social Psychology