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How Embodied Cognitions Affect Judgments: Height-Related Attribution Bias in Football Foul Calls

Niels van Quaquebeke and Steffen Giessner

ERIM Report Series Research in Management from Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam

Abstract: Many fouls committed in football (called soccer in some countries) are ambiguous, and there is no objective way of determining who is the “true” perpetrator or the “true” victim. Consequently, fans as well as referees often rely on a variety of decision cues when judging such foul situations. Based on embodiment research, which links perceptions of height to concepts of strength, power, and aggression, we argue that height is going to be one of the decision cues used. As a result, people are more likely to attribute a foul in an ambiguous tackle situation to the taller of two players. We find consistent support for our hypothesis, not only in field data spanning the last seven UEFA Champions League and German Bundesliga seasons, as well as the last three FIFA World Cups, but also in two experimental studies. The resulting dilemma for refereeing in practice is discussed.

Keywords: decision cue; decision making; dominance; information processing; power; refereeing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L2 M M10 M12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010-02-01
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2)

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