Yes We Did! Basking in Reflected Glory and Cutting Off Reflected Failure in the 2008 Presidential Election


  • Special thanks to Erin O'Mara for her assistance in data collection, and to Alex Maki for his coding. Thanks to Mark Snyder for his guidance and feedback throughout this research project. Thanks to Emily Fisher and the reviewers for their helpful comments. Thanks to a number of research assistants at the University of Minnesota and the University of Tennessee for their work in collecting field data. Finally, thanks to the Center for the Study of Political Psychology at the University of Minnesota for its support.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Chris B. Miller, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 55455 [e-mail:].


In two studies, the tendency to Bask in Reflected Glory (BIRG) or Cut Off Reflected Failure (CORF) was examined in the context of the 2008 presidential election. Experiment 1, a field study, found that yard or window signs endorsing successful Democratic candidate Barack Obama were displayed longer than signs endorsing his opponent. Experiment 2 utilized a survey methodology to explore moderators of the BIRG effect implied by prior research. Self-esteem was shown to moderate CORF, such that individuals with lower self-esteem distanced themselves from the unsuccessful presidential candidate. Other moderators consistent with the cognitive consistency basis of BIRG, strength of identification and self-serving attributions, were not. Reasons for these findings are discussed, and future directions for research on BIRG are proposed.