The belief that damaging an object may harm the individual to which the object relates is common among adults. We explored whether arousal following the destruction of a photograph of a loved partner is greater than that following the destruction of a photograph of a stranger, and whether this response is greater than when a photograph representing a non-person sentimental attachment is destroyed, using a measure of skin conductance response. Long-term supporters of a football team, who were also in a long-term relationship, showed increased arousal when asked to destroy a photograph of their partner, but not a photograph of their team, even though both elicited equivalent ratings of emotional attachment. This may be because football teams are conceptualized differently from individuals. Future studies should address whether destruction of symbols that represent the enduring nature of the team elicit more emotional distress than photograph.
RozinP.NemeroffC. J.StiglerJ.HerdtG.ShwederR. A.The laws of sympathetic magic: A psychological analysis of similarity and contagionCultural Psychology: Essays on comparative human development1990New York, NYCambridge University Press205232