Tall Poppies in Sport: Attitudes and Ascribed Personality Traits


Department of Human Movement, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA, 6009, Australia GROVER@uniwa.uwa.edu.au


Attitudes towards high-profile sport performers as well as their perceived personality characteristics were examined. Some of these performers (Group A) had received publicity for being gay, being HIV positive, or using steroids, while others (Group B) had not been portrayed in this way. Results indicated that attitudes towards the athletes in Group A were more negative than attitudes towards the athletes in Group B. Differences were also obtained with respect to ascribed personality traits, with athletes in Group A viewed as less rule-oriented, less self-controlled, less honest, less trustworthy, and lower in integrity than athletes in Group B. Findings are discussed in relation to values within Australian society and the institution of sport, as well as psychological mechanisms such as halo effects, social comparison processes, and “just world” beliefs.