Washington, June 15 : Parents cheering their kids during a school football game is a common sight, but there are times when folks turn too wild and aggressive that they end up embroiling themselves in violent fights. Now, scientists have attributed uch off the field behaviour to parents' personality types.
The study carried out by Jay Goldstein and Seppo Iso-Ahola, Sports psychologists at the University of Maryland, surveyed 340 parents before and after soccer games in which their children participated. The kids were between 8 and 15 years old.
The researchers found that level of rudeness and rowdiness depends mostly on parents' personality types.
It also indicated that almost 50 percent of the parents in the study reported getting angry during soccer games, and nearly 40 percent of the angry parents made their emotions known. These sideline expressions ranged from muttering or yelling comments to walking toward the field.
"Their own sense of their personal worth gets wrapped up in how their children are doing in these ball games. And so the parents feel intense, internal pressure to see their kids performing because the kids are like extensions of themselves," Live Science quoted Edward Deci, a psychologist at the University of Rochester in New York, as saying.
The questionnaires in the study measured, among other factors, stress and pressure, levels of anger and aggression and aspects of their personality related to "what makes them tick." The research focused on two personality types: control and autonomy orientations, which have also been shown to play a role in road rage.
"The control-oriented personality is the parent who would be more apt to need to keep up with the JonesesThey feel controlled by external forces," said Goldstein.
He said that these external forces include fame, money and public status and Individuals who are self-motivated would be considered autonomy oriented.
Almost 50 percent of the parents reported getting angry during the soccer game, though on average, anger levels were relatively low. The referee and their child's team topped the list of sources of anger, followed by rude opponents, hostile remarks or gestures, coaches and illegal play.
While majority of the parents (61 percent of those who reported getting angry) kept their anger inside, out of the nearly 40 percent who expressed their anger, about 19 percent muttered comments; 10 percent looked away from the field or yelled comments; about 8 percent stood up from their seats in response to the incident; while others walked toward or away from the field, made gestures or responded in some other manner.
Parents who scored high on control-oriented measures took any mishap on the filed personally, and they were also more prone to get red in the face and behave badly compared with the autonomy parents.
"People who are high in autonomy are generally psychologically healthier, and so they're less likely to get bent out of shape if their kids make an error at some sporting activity," said Deci.
However, when the autonomy parents did report taking field events personally, they were just as likely as other parents to get angry.
"While your personality may buffer you, once you become ego-defensive all bets are off," said Goldstein.
The findings are detailed in the latest issue of the Journal of Applied and Social Psychology.