Group behaviour can possess an adaptive advantage for the individuals within the group, which is why it can appear in particular social situations. An example of this appears within sports crowds. Natural selection favours genes that cause human beings to be altruistic towards members of their own group, yet intolerant towards outsiders (xenophobia). It would be adaptive to exaggerate negative stereotypes of outsiders, as the over-perception of threat would be less costly than its under-perception. Van Vugt et al. (2007) supports this by stating that among early humans there was a constant threat from rival groups, therefore, men have evolved a specific ‘tribal psychology’ that increases their propensity for intergroup aggression and includes in-group favouritism, intergroup aggression and dehumanization of the out-group. It has also been noted that such displays of aggression within sports crowds relates to the adaptive response by our ancestors as they allowed groups to defend valuable resources associated with territory.
Research by Foldesi (96) provides support for the link between sports displays and xenophobia. He found that racist chants and banners from extremist supports, among Hungarian football crowds, led to an increase in spectator violence in general, but was particularly aimed at groups condemned to be ‘outsiders’ (e.g. gypsies, Jews and Russians). Evans and Rowe (2002) also found evidence of xenophobic displays in a study of football crowds in continental Europe that involved either the English national team or English club sides. They found more evidence of xenophobic abuse and violent disorder in games involving the national side than in games involving the club sides. They concluded that this is due to the fact club sides tend to be more ethically diverse and therefore less likely to produce xenophobic responses from foreign supporters. There is also evidence for the