All you Need is Love: The Effect of Moral Support on Performance (Revision of CentER DP 2018-026)

F. Colella, Patricio Dalton, G. Giusti

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This study presents unique empirical evidence on the importance of moral support for performance. We take advantage of an unusual change in Argentinean football legislation. In August 2013, as a matter of National security, the Argentinean government forced all teams in the first division to play their games with only home team supporters. Supporters of visiting teams were not allowed to be in stadiums during league games. We estimate the effect of this exogenous variation of supporters on team performance, and find that visiting teams are, on average, about 20% more likely to lose without the presence of their supporters. As a counterfactual experiment, we run the analysis using contemporaneous cup games, where the visiting team supporters were allowed to attend, and find no effect of the ban on those games. Moreover, the ban does not affect the decisions of referees, the lineups or the market value of the teams, suggesting that the effect on team performance is due to the loss of moral support rather than other factors. Finally, we find that moral support is more relevant, and often pivotal, when there is balance of power between the two teams, suggesting that moral
support compensates the power of monetary resources. This paper provides a proof of concept of moral support as an important non-monetary resource, even in settings with high monetary incentives.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • Moral support
  • Encouragement
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Motivation
  • on-monetary Incentives
  • Competitive Environments


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