Politics and basking-in-reflected-glory: A field study in Flanders

Filip Boen, Norbert Vanbeselaere, Mario Pandelaere, Siegfried De Witte, Bart Duriez, Boris Snauwaert, Jos Feys, Vicky Dierckx & Eddy Van Avermaet

The present field-study tested whether the basking-in-reflected-glory phenomenon would emerge in a political context. Two days before the general elections in Flanders (Belgium), three urban regions were systematically surveyed by ten observers. These observers unobtrusively registered the addresses of private houses which displayed at least one poster (N = 482) or a removable lawn-sign (N = 180) supporting a political party. The day after the elections, the observers checked whether the registered houses still displayed their poster(s) or lawn-sign(s). A strongly positive linear relation was found between the proportional win/loss of the various political parties (compared to the previous elections) and the percentage of houses that continued to exhibit the poster(s) or lawn-sign(s) in favor of that party: the better the election result, the more houses that still displayed their poster(s) or lawn-sign(s). Two complementary processes seem to account for the observations: a tendency to flaunt one’s association with a triumphant party (i.e., basking-in-reflected-glory) and a tendency to conceal one’s association with a defeated party (i.e., cutting-off-reflected-failure). A follow-up indicated that basking-in-reflected-glory lasted for at least one week after the elections.

Boen, F., Vanbeselaere, N., Pandelaere, M., De Witte, S., Duriez, B., Snauwaert, B., Feys, J., Dierckx, V., & Van Avermaet, E. (2002). Politics and basking-in-reflected-glory: A field study in Flanders. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 24, 204-213.