Conceptualizing affective and emotional responses to inclusion and exclusion: The case of subgroups in sport teams


Feeling included is essential for achieving core social motives such as self-esteem (Fiske 2004) and as such, individuals closely monitor their integration within groups. Although sport teams provide opportunities to experience inclusion, they may nevertheless be a context for teammates to exclude one another. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the affective and emotional responses associated with inclusion within (and exclusion from) subgroups of athletes who form close bonds within teams. First, we re-analyzed qualitative transcripts generated through recently published research involving 22 interuniversity athletes (Martin et al. 2015) and 21 elite level coaches (Martin et al., under review) who reflected on their experiences with subgroups in sport. Through targeted thematic analysis, several themes emerged which were then paired with existing literature (e.g., Williams, 2007) to conceptualize affective and emotional experiences in relation to experiences with subgroups. Through this process, we formulated several postulates regarding responses to inclusion within, and exclusion from, subgroups in sport teams. Consistent with previous research (e.g., Allen & Hecht, 2004), positive affective responses emerged in descriptions of inclusion within subgroups. Individuals who felt excluded from subgroups, on the other hand, reported distinct emotions according to the situation and the individual. This corresponds with literature involving the diverse emotional reactions to exclusion (i.e., anger, guilt, and shame). This presentation will explore how these postulates may generate future research, with the intention of further understanding how to facilitate optimal experiences within sport teams.