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Sequential Effects in Important Referee Decisions: The Case of Penalties in Soccer

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Abstract

In a study on penalty decisions in soccer, one hundred-fifteen participants who were either referees or players made decisions as referees for each of 20 videotaped scenes from an actual match. In three scenes, potential fouls were committed by defenders in their penalty areas. The first two scenes involved the same team and the third scene occurred in the penalty area of the opposite team. Consistent with the assumption that judges' initial decisions have an impact on later decisions, we found a negative correlation between participants' successive penalty decisions concerning the same team. Deciding that no offence had been committed in the first scene increased the chance that a penalty would be awarded in the second scene, also relative to no-first-scene controls. Furthermore, we found a positive correlation between successive penalty decisions concerning first one and than the opposite team. These patterns were not found for less important contexts (free-kick decisions).
BRIEF
REPORT
JOURNAL OF SPORT & EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY, 2001, 23, 254-259
© 2001 Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
Sequential Effects in Important Referee Decisions:
The Case of Penalties in Soccer
Henning Plessner and Tilmann Betsch
University of Heidelberg
In a study on penalty decisions in soccer, 115 participants made decisions as
referees for each of
20
videotaped scenes from an actual match. In three scenes,
defenders committed potential fouls in their penalty area. The first two scenes
involved the same team and the third scene occurred in the opposite penalty
area. Consistent with the assumption that judges' initial decisions have an
impact on later decisions, we found a negative correlation hetween partici-
pants'
successive penalty decisions concerning the same team, and a positive
correlation between successive penalty decisions concerning first one and then
the opposing team.
Key words: applied social cognition, judgment biases in sports, concession
decisions
Whether or not to award a penalty in a given situation is a very important
decision in soccer matches. For example, Germany won the World Cup Final in
1990 against Argentina, 0:1, by scoring the only penalty-kick of that match. Ac-
cording to the rules of the Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA), a penalty
should be awarded against a team that commits an offense inside its own penalty
area, for example tripping an opponent. Earlier decisions in the match should have
no influence on a penalty decision. In media reports, however, it has frequently
been alleged that referees tend to make so-called concession decisions. Most in-
triguing is the claim that the probability of awarding a penalty to a team in an
ambiguous foul situation increases if no penalty has been awarded to the same
team in a similar situation before.
This phenomenon, which constitutes a type of contrast effect in a sequence
of important decisions, also seems to be obvious to those who frequently view
sports games. Still, media reports and sports fans could be wrong and it may be
that this contrast effect does not really exist. To the best of our knowledge, to date
there has been no empirical evidence for such an effect. Although there is some
research on the specific tasks of judges, umpires, and referees in sports (Ford,
The authors are with the Psychological Institute, University of Heidelberg, Haupt-
strasse
47-51,
69117 Heidelberg, Germany.
254
Penalties in Soccer / 255
Gallagher, Lacy, Bridwell, & Goodwin, 1997; Mohr & Larsen, 1998; Oudejans,
Verheijen, Bakker, et
al.,
2000; Plessner, 1999; Ste-Made & Lee, 1991), the possi-
bility that sequential effects could make their way through the repetition of similar
decisions has been almost completely neglected.
Some researchers have argued that decisions of officials in sports can be
understood as
a
product of social information processing (Frank & Gilovich, 1988;
Plessner & Raab, 1999). From a social psychological point of view, it is not sur-
prising that people's judgments can be influenced by their earlier decisions
(Festinger, 1957). Some models in social cognition have even tried to predict the
exact circumstances that lead to divergent contrast and assimilation effects in so-
cial judgments (Schwarz & Bless, 1992; Stapel & Winkielman, 1998). According
to these theoretical approaches, such effects can occur spontaneously, without the
possibility of being consciously controlled by the individual. However, most of
these models would predict—to the extent that they are applicable to the present
context—an assimilation (i.e., a positive correlation) rather than a contrast effect
(i.e.,
a negative correlation) in a sequence of penalty decisions.
The goal of the present study was to answer the following questions:
(a)
Are
there, in general, contingencies between successive penalty decisions? (b) Does
the probability of awarding a penalty to a team increase if no penalty has been
awarded to that team in a similar situation before? (c) If contingencies were to be
found, are they specific to penalty decisions or are they but a general phenomenon
of decisions made by referees in a soccer match?
Method
Participants
A total of 115 German male participants, 58 licensed referees and 57 soccer
players, took part in the experiment. The mean age of the referees was 31.6 years
{SD
=
12.1) and they averaged 5.7 years of experience as referees
{SD
= 9.6). The
players averaged 23.5 years of age (SD
=
8.2) and had some experience as refer-
ees in training matches but were not licensed referees. Data were collected at dif-
ferent sport locations, such as soccer clubs. At each location the participants were
randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions, always including the
two focused in this report (see below). As a reward for their participation, they
took part in a lottery. The prize of the lottery was a subscription to the German
soccer journal Kicker, which had a value of approximately $150 at the time.
Materials and Design
Participants had to make decisions for each of 20 videotaped scenes from a
soccer match in the Spanish Primera Division (Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Madrid,
2:3,
November 6,1999). We had chosen this match from a pool of about 50 video-
taped matches according to several criteria such as good visibility in different scenes
and the likelihood that German participants were not familiar with
it.
Indeed, none
of our participants indicated that he was famiUar with the match before the experi-
ment. Most important, the match contained two successive ambiguous foul scenes
inside the penalty area of one team and a third ambiguous foul scene inside the
256 / Plessner and Betsch
penalty area of the opposing team.' It also contained a similar sequence of poten-
tial free-kick scenes.
Oti the videotape, both sequences—potential penalty and free-kick situa-
tions—were filled with scenes in which the ball was kicked outside the field and
participants had to decide, for example, which team was to continue the match.
Further ball-out and free-kick situations were included on the tape to dilute the
salience of the target sequences. Each scene was announced by showing the minute
of play. The scene continued until a question mark appeared on the screen. All
scenes were stopped before the decision of the original referee became clear. No
score was visible in any scene, and no goal was shown.
For about one-third of the participants
{n
= 43), the videotape was edited so
that instead of the first foul scene inside the penalty area, a ball-out situation ap-
peared on the screen. We expected the remaining participants (n = 72) to divide
into two groups based on their
decisions:
(a) those who award a penalty in the first
scene, and (b) those who do not. Therefore, we would be able to compare the
probability of awarding a penalty in the second scene under three conditions: no
prior penalty decision; penalty awarded in a prior situation; or no penalty awarded
in a prior situation.
Before the test phase began, participants had to make decisions in three prac-
tice trials in which scenes were presented from different European league matches
(one free-kick and two ball-out situations).
Procedure
Participants were asked to make decisions for several scenes as if they were
real referees in a soccer match. Starting with a training phase, a scene was shown
on the television screen until the experimenter stopped the videotape. Then par-
ticipants immediately had to announce their decisions (e.g., free-kick for the team
in blue), which were recorded by the experimenter. Then the next scene appeared
on the screen. After the practice phase, participants were told the test phase would
now begin and that all following scenes were from the same match in which they
would have to act as referee. Following the decisions for all 20 scenes, participants
were given a small booklet with questions concerning personal data, including
questions about their experience as referees. Furthermore, they were asked if they
had previously seen the scenes used in the experiment or knew anything about that
particular match.
Results
Itiitial analyses showed that decisions (e.g., relative frequency of free-kicks
or penalties awarded) did not depend on whether the judges were referees or play-
ers.
Indeed, there were no significant differences between referees' and players'
decisions for any of
the
20 scenes of both videotapes. Therefore, the data for refer-
ees and players were collapsed for the following analyses.
'As a single case of evidence for the assumed contrast effect, the original referee
awarded a penalty only in the second situation, although slow-motion video show that in
comparison to the
first
scene, the defender's offense was less clear in the second scene.
Penalties in Soccer / 257
Penalty Decisions
Participants' decisions for the three foul scenes inside the penalty areas were
each categorized as "penalty awarded" (e.g., penalty and warning) and "no pen-
alty awarded" (e.g., comer).
We found that the penalty decisions of participants who had to decide for the
first two penalty scenes that involved the same team were negatively correlated,
O = -.29, p = .023. In fact, not a single participant awarded a penalty in both
situations. Compared to those who saw a ball-out situation instead of the first foul
scene in the penalty area (no prior penalty decision), the probability of awarding a
penalty in the second scene decreased when they had awarded a penalty before
(penalty awarded in a prior situation) and increased when they had not (no penalty
awarded in a prior situation), F(2, 112) = 4.12, p
=
.019, as shown below:
No prior penalty decision (rt = 43): 18.6%
Prior penalty decision
- Penalty awarded (n = 13): 0%
- No penalty awarded (n = 59): 33.9%
Because of the negative correlation between the decisions concerning the
first two scenes, we calculated a score for all participants that indicated whether
they awarded a penalty at all in one of the first two scenes. Thus we were able to
compare the penalty decisions concerning first one and then the opposing team
over all experimental conditions. In contrast to the decisions concerning the same
team, we found a positive correlation between this score and the decisions made
for the foul scene inside the opposite penalty area,
<I>
= .30, p = .029. Therefore,
awarding a penalty to one team increased the probability of giving a penalty to the
opposing team, f(l
13)
=
2.21,
p < .029, as shown below:
No penalty awarded (n = 62): 22.6%
Penalty awarded (« = 53): 41.5%
Taken together, whereas the finding concerning successive penalty decisions
about the same team suggests a contrast effect, the finding concerning successive
penalty decisions about first one and then the opposing team suggests an assimila-
tion effect.
Free-Kick Decisions
Analogous to the analyses of the penalty decisions, we calculated correla-
tion coefficients for the sequence of three free-kick decisions. Neither successive
decisions concerning the same team nor successive decisions concerning first one
and then the other team correlated significantly, O =
.05,
p = .59, and 0 =
.06,
p =
.49,
respectively. Hence, decisions in free-kick situations were independent of ear-
lier decisions in similar situations.
258 / Plessner and Betsch
Discussion
This study provides empirical evidence for the claim that important referee
decisions, such as awarding a penalty in a given situation, are influenced by previ-
ous decisions in sitnilar situations. The probability of awarding a penalty increased
if no penalty had been awarded to the same team before. Moreover, we found a
negative contingency between successive penalty decisions concerning the same
team and a positive contingency between successive penalty decisions concerning
first one and then the other team. In contrast to what is prescribed by the FIFA
rules,
when evaluating a given situation, referees, as well as soccer players acting
as referees, were biased by their own earlier
decisions.
Nonetheless, these findings
held only for penalty decisions. Decisions in less important free-kick situations
were not influenced in the same manner, as is evident from the absence of signifi-
cant correlations between them.
An obvious difference between penalty and free-kick decisions is the fact
that the latter are much more frequent in a match than penalty decisions. Further-
more, the consequences of penalty decisions are much more significant because
they can determine the winner and loser of a game. In light of the importance of
penalty decisions, referees' judgments may reflect a compromise between actual
observations and some "unwritten rules" associated with penalties. It has been
shown in other sport contexts that such unwritten rules can bias the judges' deci-
sions (Plessner & Raab, 1999). For example, gytnnastics judges were found to be
systematically infiuenced by the unwritten rule that gymnasts are typically placed
in rank order from poorest to best for a team competition (Scheer, 1973).
In the present context, it is likely that the possibility of awarding a penalty is
perceived as an option that one should not take too often. This unwritten rule could
partly explain the contrast effect in successive penalty decisions concerning the
same team. That is, once participants awarded a penalty to a team, they are as-
sumed to shift their criterion for awarding a penalty to the same team to a higher
level in subsequent situations. This process corresponds to predictions for succes-
sive judgments that can be derived from Martin's (1986) set-reset model of im-
pression formation. Moreover, penalty situations may result in decisions that are
somewhat equality-oriented (Van Lange, 1999). This orientation could lead to a
concession decision, as a kind of summary response to repeated oiJenses, as well
as to the assimilation effect we found when both teams were involved. These as-
sumptions, however, are only speculative so far. The present study provides a use-
ful setting for further studies of sequential effects, or biases, and their underlying
cognitive mechanisms in important decisions on the part of referees.
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Acknowledgments
We thank Birgit Koopmann, Irena Ebert, Susanna Jeschonek, Dorothee RandoU, Saskia
Lang, Pascaline Herzenstiel, Ulrike Bechstedt, Dorte EisenbeiB, Sebastian Stehle, Elke
Ltidemann, Nils Kaltenbach, Katharina Stocklas, AJmut Stromberger, and Manuel Lucas
for their help with conducting the study; Thomas Zink for his support concerning the cut-
ting of the videotapes; Ukich Mueller, Blair Johnson, and Thomas Mussweiler for their
helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript; and the German soccer journal
Kicker for sponsoring our study by giving us a subscription as reward for our participants.
Manuscript
submitted:
May 24, 2000
Revision
accepted:
March 15, 2001
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Masterthesis im Studiengang Master of Education Lehramt an Gymnasien im Fachbereich Sport Entscheidungsqualität von Schiedsrichterinnen und Schiedsrichtern. Eine empirische Untersuchung zu Spielsituationen im Handball.
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A two-phase study was conducted on shooting three-point shots in basketball in pressure/no-pressure game situations. In Phase 1 – a subjective approach, our aim was to discover what the players and coaches thought about shooting beyond the three-point arc when the shooters were performing under defensive pressure or when they were free of such pressure. In Phase 2 – an analysis of shooting success, we examined the actual success (i.e., percentage of successful shots) of shooting three-point shots under these two situations. In Phase 1, 97 Division 1 male basketball players and 12 elite coaches were asked how they perceived shooting three-point shots in various game situations. In Phase 2, the success of 382 three-point shots taken in actual Division 1 games was analyzed. The shots were classified by four expert coaches into two categories – shots taken in free-of-defense and shots taken in under-pressure game situations. The success of the two classified shots was analyzed under 10 conditions. Expected results were found in Phase 1 – both players and coaches believed that the success of three-point shots is higher when the shots are taken when the shooter is free of defense. In Phase 2, a surprising finding was revealed: shooting success was higher when the players shot under defensive pressure. We discuss the data in line with Kahneman’s (2011), Thinking, fast and slow, model, and propose a number of practical implications for coaches who are preparing their three-point shooters to deal with real game situations.
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Objetivo: Este estudo teve como objetivo avaliar a relação entre a classificação de árbitros de futebol de elite e variáveis contextuais e situacionais que caraterizam os jogos arbitrados no decorrer de uma época. Para tal, foi realizada uma regressão ordinal com função Link Logit entre a classificação final e variáveis contextuais e situacionais. As variáveis contextuais revelaram um efeito significativo sobre a classificação final, não se verificando efeitos significativos das variáveis situacionais, sobre a classificação dos árbitros no final da época desportiva. Na globalidade o modelo revelou-se estatisticamente significativo. A probabilidade de obtenção de melhor classificação final dos árbitros aumenta 54.2% com o aumento do número de jogos realizados na I Liga e aumenta 24.8% com aumento do número de jogos equilibrados. Diminui 61.2% com jogos realizados sem equipas Top 3. Os resultados reforçam a influência significativa que os fatores contextuais têm sobre a classificação e avaliação de um árbitro no final da época desportiva. This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between the classification of elite soccer referees in Portugal and the contextual and situational variables of the matches refereed during the 2016-2017 sports season. In order to analyze the relationship between the final classification and the level of the competition, characterization of the game, result of the game and total number of cards displayed per game, an ordinal regression with Link Logit function was used. The results revealed that the contextual variables have a significant effect on the final classification, with no significant effects of the situational variables. In general, the model statistically explains the final classification of the elite soccer referees at the end of the sports season (X2LP (5) = 40.299, p<0.001). The probability of obtaining a better final referees’ classification increases 54.2% with the increase in the number of games played in the I League (OR=1.542), and 24.8% with the increase in the number of balanced games (OR=1.248). Decreases 61.2% with the increase in the number of games without TOP 3(OR=0.388). Finally, in relation to the total number of cards displayed in a game, there were no significant effects on the ranking of referees' performance. In summary, the results reinforce the significant influence that contextual factors have on the classification and assessment of a referee at the end of the sports season. Este trabalho teve como objetivo avaliar a relação entre a classificação dos árbitros de futebol de elite em Portugal e as variáveis contextuais e situacionais dos jogos arbitrados no decorrer da época desportiva 2016-2017. No sentido de analisar qual a relação entre a classificação final e o nível da competição, caraterização do jogo, resultado do jogo e número total de cartões exibidos por jogo foi realizada uma regressão ordinal com função Link Logit. Os resultados, revelaram que as variáveis contextuais, apresentam um efeito significativo sobre a classificação final, não se verificando efeitos significativos das variáveis situacionais, sobre a classificação final dos árbitros de futebol no final da época desportiva. Na globalidade o modelo revelou-se estatisticamente significativo (X2LP (5) = 40.299, p<0.001). A probabilidade de obtenção de melhor classificação final dos árbitros aumenta 54.2% com o aumento do número de jogos realizados na I Liga (OR=1.542) e aumenta 24.8% com aumento do número de jogos equilibrados (OR=1.248). Diminui 61.2% com jogos realizados sem equipas Top 3 (OR=0.388). Por último, em relação ao número total de cartões exibidos num jogo não se verificaram efeitos significativos no ranking de desempenho dos árbitros. Em suma, os resultados reforçam a influência significativa que os fatores contextuais têm uma sobre a classificação e avaliação de um árbitro no final da época desportiva.
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Video assistant referee was officially introduced into soccer regulations in 2018, after many years in which referee errors were justified as being “part of the game.” The technology’s penetration into the soccer field was accompanied by concerns and much criticism that, to a large degree, continues to be voiced with frequency. This paper argues that, despite fierce objections and extensive criticism, VAR represents an important revision in modern professional soccer, and moreover, it completes a moral revolution in the evolution of the sport as a whole. Theoretically speaking, this technology enables an improvement in the sport’s professional standards and its public image and prestige, and especially its moral standards – Fair play. Furthermore, the introduction of this technology makes it possible to discover additional weaknesses (Standardization for extra time, a clear definition of a handball offense and more) that professional soccer regulations will probably be forced to address in the future.
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Presents an integrative model of the emergence, direction (assimilation vs. contrast), and size of context effects in social judgment.
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The author provides a conceptual framework for understanding differences among prosocial, individualistic, and competitive orientations. Whereas traditional models conceptualize prosocial orientation in terms of enhancing joint outcomes, the author proposes an integrative model of social value orientation in which prosocial orientation is understood in terms of enhancing both joint outcomes and equality in outcomes. Consistent with this integrative model, prosocial orientation (vs. individualistic and competitive orientations) was associated with greater tendencies to enhance both joint outcomes and equality in outcomes; in addition, both goals were positively associated (Study 1). Consistent with interaction-relevant implications of this model, prosocial orientation was strongly related to reciprocity. Relative to individualists and competitors, prosocials were more likely to engage in the same level of cooperation as the interdependent other did (Study 2) and the same level of cooperation as they anticipated from the interdependent other (Study 3). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Two studies examine conditions under which context information that is cognitively accessible and relevant to interpretation of an ambiguous target stimulus is primarily used as an interpretation frame (and leads to assimilation) or as a comparison standard (and leads to contrast). The currently dominating perspectives explain context effects in terms of the perceived extremity and appropriateness of context information. In the present studies, it is demonstrated that, beyond extremity and appropriateness, whether context information instigates assimilative interpretation or contrastive comparison processes may depend on three additional factors: (a) categorical context-target similarity, (b) perceived distinctness of the context information, and (c) relevance of the context information to the dimension on which the target will be judged. Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/68352/2/10.1177_0146167298246007.pdf
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Observed in 3 experiments that impressions of an ambiguously described stimulus person were assimilated toward the implications of primed concepts when performance of the priming task was interrupted, but they were contrasted with these implications when performance of the priming task was allowed to continue to completion. In Exp I, with 36 female undergraduates, when the primed concepts were evaluatively consistent, assimilation and contrast were observed on both prime-related and prime-unrelated dimensions. In Exp II, with 40 female undergraduates, when the primed concepts were evaluatively inconsistent, these shifts in impression were observed only on dimensions directly related to the primed concepts. In Exp III, with 44 undergraduates, when no concepts descriptively relevant to the stimulus information were primed, the assimilation and contrast were relative to the favorableness of a primed general evaluative person concept. Results suggest that (1) a concept may be accessible to an individual and may be relevant to target information, yet not be used to encode that information; (2) assimilation and contrast may occur for reasons other than the discrepancy between the target and the contextual stimuli on the dimension of judgment; and (3) individuals may use the evaluative implications of their person representation as a cue in deciding which of several equally applicable, equally accessible descriptive concepts to use in interpreting information about a person. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Examined umpire allocations of rewards to (1) teams from the same state (instate) as the central umpires and (2) teams from other states (outstate) in 171 Australian rules football matches over a period of 4 yrs. Data were game statistics. For each game, the statistics included the final score, the number of free kicks awarded to each team, the location, the names of the field umpires, and the crowd size. The dependent variable was the number of free kicks received by each team in a match. The instate teams received significantly more free kicks than the outstate teams did in matches between them. The extent of the instate adjudication advantage varied by year; it was significantly greater for matches on an instate home ground than for matches on an outstate home ground. The umpires manifested ingroup favoritism in rewards of low value-salience (obstruction of outgroup scoring opportunities) rather than in rewards of high value-salience (facilitation of ingroup scoring opportunities). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Three experiments examined the influence of prior judgments on direct and indirect memory tests in gymnastic judging. Results for both perceptual and recognition judgments depended on an item's relationship between study and test. For perceptual judgments, moves performed the same resulted in the highest level of accuracy, new moves were less accurate, and the lowest level of accuracy occurred for items where the performance was altered between study and the perceptual test. Novice and expert judges revealed similar memory influences (Exp 1). Memory influences were reduced but not eliminated when Ss were given prior knowledge of these effects (Exp 2). Spacing of repetitions did not enhance these prior processing effects (Exp 3). The findings are discussed in terms of perceptual biases and the practical implications of judges' exposure to an athlete's performance before competition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Several studies have found that gymnasts' placement in within-team order affects their scores (e.g., J. K. Scheer and C. J. Ansorge, 1975). This effect has been explained in terms of judges' expectations yielding a cognitive confirmation. In the present study, the influence of expectations on gymnastics judging was conceptualized within the schema approach of social cognition research. Three factors are addressed that contribute to the understanding of the placement effect: task difficulty, social situation, and process stages. In an experiment, 48 gymnastics judges scored videotaped routines of a men's team competition. Target routines appeared either in the first or the fifth position of within team order. Depending on the difficulty of the judgment task, a significant placement effect was found. This effect resulted from biased encoding of single elements, as well as from heuristic judgment strategies. Results are discussed in reference to the practice of gymnastics judging. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)