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Boffins in study to see if U's fans are more on the ball
FOR many fans, supporting Oxford United is a real no-brainer.
Now Oxford University researchers are studying whether supporting the U’s has intellectual benefits too.
Eighty volunteer fans are needed for a study looking at how fans’ passion for their team affects their memory and senses.
Zahra Moradi, from Oxford University’s department of experimental psychology, said: “One of the cognitive tests is carried out on a computer and involves fans recognising and responding to the shapes and images of club badges.
“We want to establish if their reaction times get a boost when they see the badge of the team they support and how they respond if they see the badge of a rival team, like Swindon Town for example.
“Early results suggest that football fans are able to form mental associations faster when considering their own team rather than rival teams.
“And previous studies have shown that the sense of community that comes from supporting a team can affect how the mind works.”
Ms Moradi is only conducting research on U’s fans. Once completed, her findings will be published in a scientific journal.
Didcot estate agent David Pratt, 27, is one of those taking part. He said: “I was taken to my first game at the Manor Ground when I was about 10 and stood in the London Road end. Dean Windass scored against Barnsley and after that I was hooked.”
Mr Pratt and colleague Aaron Brooks, 24, from Didcot, met Ms Moradi when she came into their office – Chancellors in Broadway – to ask about moving home from Didcot to Oxford.
She discovered that the estate agents were passionate U’s fans and asked them to take part in her study. Mr Pratt said: “I think I do feel better for supporting Oxford United, even if the team isn’t on a great run at the moment.
“You’re all in it together when you turn up to watch a game and I enjoy that feeling – it breaks down barriers.”
Supporters who are aged 18 to 45, are right-handed, and fluent English speakers are being invited to take part in the tests.
There are two separate experiments taking less than 40 minutes each, which involve simple shape association tasks.
Mark Sennett, chairman of Oxford United supporters group OxVox, said: “The best thing about supporting a club like Oxford United is that there’s a real sense of community.”
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