A Conjoint Approach Investigating Factors in Initial Team Preference Formation, pp. 81-91

K. Damon Aiken
Eric C. Koch

Through the somewhat novel use of conjoint analysis, this work gains insight into fans’ initial preference formations, the weights given to team attributes, and the complexity of the decision task. Two separate studies investigate various team preference factors, including: winning percentage, presence of high-profile “all-star” players, geographic association, social affiliation, and team history within a league. Sport-category differences, gender differences, and fan identification-level differences are explored. Findings suggest fans, in general, appear to view the big three sports of football, baseball, and basketball very differently. For instance, the social affiliation factor is the most important factor in formulating preferences for baseball teams but is nearly the least important factor when evaluating football teams. Further, our results show that women and men form team preferences based on vastly different combinations of factors. While women focus more on social affiliations, men appear to place much greater emphasis on winning and the presence of high-caliber players. Finally, highly identified fans give greater importance weights to geographic associations, family connections, and a team’s sense of tradition.