Thank the Canaries for Norwich’s feelgood factor

Our city has the feelgood factor – and it's thanks to Norwich City's Premier League success.

Our city has the feelgood factor – and it's thanks to Norwich City's Premier League success.

Three years of almost non-stop success at Carrow Road have raised the mood across the city, even outwith Canaries fans.

Dr Simon Hampton, a psychologist at the University of East Anglia, said the euphoria triggered by sporting success is a well-established phenomenon which can be far-reaching.

He said: 'It happens the whole world over and historically. It could be rugby in New Zealand or Morris dancing in Cornwall, a good Olympic result or an England win in the Euros.'


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The euphoria is expected to culminate tomorrow, when Norwich City end their season against Aston Villa.

People are affected in two ways – as City fans themselves, or by catching the 'contagion' indirectly.

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Norwich is particularly susceptible to results-related mood swings because of it being a one-team city, and given the increased interest in the team following successive promotions.

'With Norwich, you get a collective euphoria – there is no other side to it,' said Dr Hampton. 'In cities like Liverpool and Manchester, where there are derbies, there are people in the same communities who have won and lost.'

Supporters' moods rise and fall with their team's fortunes because of social identity theory – which says a person defines themselves in part by which groups they feel they belong to.

'When it comes to football, the fortunes of that team affect the self-esteem,' said Dr Hampton. 'People feel better about themselves when their team is doing well, and Norwich don't need to do particularly well for that effect to be felt.'

There are others who, though not football fans themselves, mix with supporters whose good mood rubs off on them.

'Their brother or their work colleague is delighted, and manifests the signs of high self-esteem – for example getting the drinks in – and they get the contagion. What's not to like with that?'

But he warned that continued over-achievement was needed to keep the feelgood factor in the city and avoid the equally contagious disphoria that comes with defeat.

'The club will know that, and I expect they'll telling fans that fourth from bottom is what is needed again next year. All success is relative and, for a club of Norwich's size, that's like winning the Champions League.'

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