Dissolving sport sponsorships A research on how fans emotionally react and what the role of the implicit theories of emotion is

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Purpose- The purpose of the study at hand is to reassess the originally negative relationship between sponsorship termination on attitude’s of supporters in a more specific manner by focussing on the affective component of attitude. Additionally, the aim of the current study is to research the role of the implicit theories of emotion in the assumed negative relation between sponsorship termination and affective response by distinguishing differences in affective response between people with entity beliefs and people with incremental beliefs. Design- In this research, an online experiment is conducted with three different scenarios. These scenarios consist of two different causes of termination (forced and chosen) as well as one control group. After being exposed to a fictive news article, the affective response was measured after which respondents filled in additional questions about their behavioral intentions and their beliefs about the malleability of emotions. Findings- Results indicate that negative affect is not impacted by sponsorship termination, while it lowers positive affect and in case of a chosen termination also increases hostile affect. Additionally, no differences were found between people with incremental beliefs and people with entity beliefs, indicating that the affective response does not depend on the implicit theories of emotion. Finally, the results show no differences between people with incremental beliefs and people with entity beliefs with regards to behavioral intentions, although significant effects were found from the interaction effect between sponsorship termination and the score on the implicit theories of emotion scale for complaining behavior and in case of a chosen termination also for negative word of mouth. Implications- Sponsorship termination is not perceived as an emotionally negative event, while it does impact affective response of supporters in specific ways. Sponsor managers should therefore expect to minimally profit from the upside of positive affect, while they do not need to worry so much about the consequences of negative affect. Additionally, sponsor managers that choose to terminate a sponsorship agreement should expect an instream of negative word of mouth and increased levels of hostile affect, and therefore communicate carefully about the termination. Finally, the implicit theories of emotion should be reevaluated as a predictor of emotional outcomes. Limitations- This research depends on the imagination of respondents, since no real scenarios could be used. Additionally, self-report questionnaires are commonly known to be prone to self-report bias. Besides, the sample used in the study is relatively small, which caused a failure to meet an assumption for the statistical tests used in the analysis. Moreover, the design in the study allowed for respondents to fill in their own preferred club and sponsor, which resulted in a large variety of clubs and sponsors, with as a result, a large variety of factors that are of influence on the relationship between supporter, club and sponsor. Originality- This study is the first to focus on affective response in relation with sponsorship termination and consider the implicit theories as a predictor in this highly emotional environment.
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