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Kicking domestic violence to touch

At time of going to print, the Euro 2016 soccer tournament is drawing to a close. The exploits of the Ireland team, as usual, have given us some interesting highs and lows. But as always, the travelling army of supporters did their country proud, while ‘fans’ from other nations gave us an unwelcome glimpse back into the darker days of football hooliganism. Those of us of a certain vintage may remember that depressing era.

But there is a subgroup of the population who will be more than happy to see the tournament draw to a close, for a completely different reason.

There have been previous studies to show that televised major sports events represent a significant ‘trigger’ for violence against partners and children. Now a new study seems to back that up.

Criminologist and former police officer Stuart Kirby of Lancaster University, UK, has found that the heightened emotions of watching a match increase the likelihood of domestic violence — despite the result. Such incidents are 26 per cent more likely if the national football team wins or draws, and 38 per cent more likely if it loses.

Unfortunately, Euro 2016 is set to mark a record high in domestic abuse cases — Kirby and his colleagues looked at reports to police across three World Cup championships from 2002 to 2010. They found that domestic violence is more frequent at each new tournament, meaning the problem is escalating. Of course, when you throw alcohol into the mix, it adds unwelcome fuel to the fire.

As we know, a great many of these incidents go unreported, making it difficult to get a real handle on the figures, but during the 2014 football World Cup, reports of domestic violence almost doubled, and more than 400 domestic abusers were arrested in the nine-day run-up to England’s Euro 2016 debut on 11 June.

This phenomenon is not unknown to those who feel the heat at home. Since the 2014 World Cup, Women’s Aid in the UK has been running ‘Football United Against Domestic Violence’, involving clubs, the Premier League, media, players and supporters.

But the study authors try to keep it positive. In their conclusion, they state: “Although this is a relatively small study, it has significant ramifications due to the global nature of televised football (soccer) tournaments.

“If replicated, it presents significant opportunities to identify and reduce incidents of domestic abuse associated with televised soccer games.”

If you want to check it out, the study is titled ‘Can the FIFA World Cup Football (Soccer) Tournament be Associated with an Increase in Domestic Abuse?’

It was published recently in the wonderfully-titled Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.

Your cheatin’ heart…

Are you in a relationship? And during the time you’ve been in that relationship, have you stayed faithful to your partner? Do you feel a little smug and self-satisfied because of your fidelity? Not so fast — you may be interested in new research which suggests that there’s a more fundamental reason for your faithfulness.

Resisting the temptation to cheat on your partner may be due to something hard-wired into our brains — known as ‘perceptual downgrading’ — that makes people of the opposite sex seem less attractive than they actually are when you’re in a relationship, according to a recent study in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Basically, it involves a sort of psychological ‘off switch’ that nature uses to try to keep us faithful, according to the folks at Rutgers and New York University, US.

The ‘perceptual downgrading’ effect was even more pronounced in people who were very happy in their relationships.

Lead author Dr Shana Cole commented: “When people encounter an enticing temptation, one way to reduce its motivational pull is to devalue the temptation.

“Committed individuals see other potential partners as less attractive than other people see them, especially if they see the attractive person as a threat to their relationship, and even more so if they’re happy with their partner.”

There was a further twist, as the researchers found that both single people and those in relationships found individuals who are also in a relationship to be more attractive.


Thanks to the reader who sent me this brief joke for publication. Contributions are always welcome.

A nurse sits down beside the patient’s bed to take bloods. She notices an apple on the patient’s night-stand.

Smiling, she says: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?”

“It’s true,” replies the patient. “I haven’t seen the consultant in three days.”

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