A study finds that upset losses in the National Football League (NFL) – defined as defeats when the home team was predicted to win by four or more points – lead to a 10% increase in the rate of at-home violence by men against their wives and girlfriends (David Card and Gordon B. Dahl (2011) “Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126 (1): pp. 103-143).
Card and Dahl aim to contribute to the literature regarding media impact on violence and women’s well-being. Their argument goes that football games brings families together and “the emotional cues associated with televised games place women at an elevated risk of abuse”. A key factor in their study is the definition of “upset losses”, as contrary to “expected losses”. Whereas the latter has little or insignificant impact on violence, the former is found to lead to greater negative emotions and effects on violence.
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