We win together, we lose together: Effect of group constructs on collective responsibility

  • Colin D McLaren University of Saskatchewan
  • Alyson J Crozier University of South Australia
  • Kayla B Fesser University of Saskatchewan
  • Jocelyn D Ulvick University of Saskatchewan
  • Kevin S Spink University of Saskatchewan


While sport teams are often lauded for their "all-for-one" mentality, the reality is that games are often lost by the play of one member. Are all members collectively responsible or is the loss attributed to the individual? Further, do group factors affect the way members attribute team failures? Both cohesion (e.g., Brawley et al., 1987) and the perception of groupness (e.g., Denson et al., 2006) have been associated with members assuming collective responsibility for different events. However, little is known about how consideration of these constructs together impacts these decisions. To answer this question, adult soccer players (N = 69) read four vignettes describing hypothetical soccer teams that differed in levels of cohesion (high[HC] vs. low[LC]) and groupness (high[HG] vs. low[LG]). While imagining themselves as a member of each of the four hypothetical teams, participants were asked to report whether the individual or the team would assume responsibility for three scenarios where a teammate mistake resulted in a loss. ANOVA results revealed a significant main effect, p < .001, ╬Ěp2 = .33. Post-hoc tests revealed significant differences between conditions (all ps < .01, .57 < Cohen's d < 1.08). Collective responsibility was highest after reading the vignette describing the HC/HG team, followed by the HC/LG and LC/HG (which did not differ), and LC/LG teams. These results provide preliminary evidence that group-level constructs (i.e., cohesion, groupness) influence athletes' allocation of responsibility in team sport. Further, it appears that perceptions of cohesion and groupness have independent and additive effects on collective responsibility.