“I Still Support My Favorite Team”: The Effects of an Athlete’s Transgression and Post-Response Strategy Using Visual Cues on In-Group Bias
Using an in-group bias effect as a theoretical framework, this study examined how scandal-ridden athletes may obtain forgiveness and continuous support from highly identified sport consumers depending on the visual strategy used in the official statement and the severity of the scandal. The results indicated that for a high-severity scandal, an angular shape is more effective than a circular shape in eliciting positive evaluations from highly identified sport consumers. In contrast, for a low-severity scandal, a circular shape is more effective than an angular shape in obtaining positive evaluations from highly identified sport consumers. The underlying mechanism is that each type of visual shape is associated with different types of perception (softness vs. hardness), and the in-group bias effect occurred only when the perception of the visual shape matched the severity of the scandal.