Publication Date

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Sean Laraway


Behavioral Ecology of Consumption, Behavioral Perspective Model, Consumer Behavior, Motivating Operations, Sports Consumption Behavior, Sports Fans

Subject Areas

Experimental psychology; Sports management; Behavioral sciences


In the last 30 years, behavioral psychologists have begun to systematically apply the principles of operant theory to the analysis of consumer behavior. Two behavioral approaches that have been successfully employed in consumer behavior analysis are the Behavioral Perspective Model (BPM; Foxall, 1990) and the Behavioral Ecology of Consumption (BEC; Rajala & Hantula, 2000). However, neither of these models has been used to analyze sports consumption behavior. One purpose of the present study was to integrate consumer behavior models with other theoretical approaches to the investigation of sports consumption behavior. A second purpose was to examine the effects of three antecedent events, displayed in the form of videos, in a sample of self-identified San Francisco Giants fans, who reported their level of team identification. We used a simple behavioral choice task in which participants could choose to view team-related stimuli of the Giants or other sports-related stimuli after each video clip. We hypothesized that the video clips would serve as motivating operations that would influence the incentive value of Giants-related stimuli and subsequent choices for these stimuli, but that the level of team identification would moderate this effect. Participants also reported their affect in terms of feelings of emotional valence, arousal, dominance, and state self-esteem after each clip. We hypothesized that highly identified fans would experience greater changes in affect after viewing the losing video than would moderately identified fans but that any changes in self-esteem across the antecedent video conditions would be relatively small for both groups. Highly identified fans chose Giants-related stimuli significantly more often than did moderately identified fans. Across the two obtained levels of team identification, the winning video resulted in significantly more choices for Giants-related stimuli than did the losing video. Both groups showed consistent and statistically significant decreases in the three affect measures (emotional valence, arousal, dominance) in the losing versus the winning condition. To our knowledge, this study is the first: (a) to study sports consumption behavior from a behavior-analytic perspective, (b) to integrate behavioral approaches to the study of consumer behavior with other theoretical approaches, and (c) to assess the incentive value of team-related stimuli as a function of exposure to sports media. We propose that future studies of sports consumption behavior take an interdisciplinary, multi-method approach.