Tight-knit teammates may conform to each other's behavior

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Good relationships between teammates are essential to a team’s success, but athletes who feel more closely connected to their teammates may also be more likely to be swayed by their fellow players’ behavior.

In a study with NCAA athletes, researchers found that the more closely a player identified as being part of their team, the more likely they were to conform to their teammates' behavior. This was true for both risky and positive behaviors.

Scott Graupensperger, a Penn State doctoral student in kinesiology and a former TL1 scholar through Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute, said the results suggest that social groups — including sports teams, sororities and clubs, for example — should find ways to help members feel like part of the group without being pressured to engage in negative behavior.