Previous research suggests that shared social identification and expected support from others can reduce the extent to which attendees of mass events perceive that others pose health risks. This study evaluated the social identity processes associated with perceived risk at UK pilot sporting events held during COVID-19, including the government Events Research Programme. An online survey (N = 2029) measured attendee perceptions that other spectators adhered to safety measures, shared social identity with other attendees, expectations that others would provide support, and the perceived risk of germ spread from other attendees. Results indicate that for football attendees, seeing others adhering to COVID-19 safety measures was associated with lower perceived risk and this was partially mediated via increased shared social identity and expected support. However, the sequential mediations were non-significant for rugby and horse racing events. The decreased perceived risk for football and rugby attendees highlights the importance of understanding social identity processes at mass events to increase safety. The non-significant associations between shared social identity and perceived risk and between expected support and perceived risk for both the rugby and the horse racing highlights the need to further research risk perceptions across a range of mass event contexts.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Smith, K. & Templeton, A. 2022, 'Social identity processes associated with perceived risk at pilot sporting events during COVID‐19', British Journal of Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12541

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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