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Emotional Entrainment, National Symbols, and Identification: A Naturalistic Study Around the Men’s Football World Cup

Some theories suggest that collective emotions, in particular emotional entrainment as the feeling of affective attunement with others during rituals, can increase the identification with a social group. Furthermore, emotional entrainment is supposed to emotionally ‘charge’ group symbols that are part of ritual practices and influence group-related attitudes and solidarity even beyond the ritual context. This article tests these assumptions in a naturalistic study around the 2010 Football World Cup, which reliably generates emotional entrainment in a ritualized, nation-focused context. Results indicate that emotional entrainment during the tournament is a predictor of changes in national identification and the perceived emotional significance of national symbols after the tournament. Moreover, emotional entrainment partially mediates the relationship between pre- and post-World Cup national identification and the perception of national symbols.