They Saw a Game! Impact of Consumers’ Self-Serving Bias on Moral Disengagement and Subsequent Tolerant Responses Toward Athlete Scandals

Jin Woo Ahn
Joon Sung Lee
and Daniel L. Wann

This research attempted to examine the tolerant responses of sport fans to scandalized athletes by drawing on fans’ self-serving bias and attribution theory. To this end, we conducted a quasi-experimental study (n = 219).The results of SEM analysis indicate that fans with a high team identification reported a greater level of external attribution than those with low team identification, while fans with low team identification reported a greater level of internal attribution than those with high team identification. Also, external attribution had positive impacts on moral disengagement, while internal attribution had negative impacts. We found that sport fans become more forgiving by activating moral disengagement. The present study further extends the literature by investigating how the level of team identification can evoke differential consumer responses toward a wrongdoer and enabling practitioners to make informed decisions on whether they should keep ties with troubled athletes.