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A Clue to Referee Bias?

Soccer referees have taken some hits lately, thanks to a controversial call in the England-Germany World Cup match (among many others). Economists have already gotten involved; now here come the psychologists. The BPS Research Digest reports that “[a] simple perceptual bias could influence football referees’ judgments about whether a foul occurred or not.” Alexander Kranjec, Matt Lehet, Bianca Bromberger and Anjan Chatterjee showed 268 images of player tackles to 12 soccer players for half a second each; 134 of the pictures were mirror images of the other 134. “The key finding was that more fouls (66.5 vs. 63.3 – a statistically significant difference) were judged to have occurred when assessing the images in which movement was captured in a leftward direction than when assessing the same images mirror-reversed and therefore featuring implied rightward motion,” writes the BPS Digest. “The researchers think this anomaly may have to do with our bias (at least in cultures that read from left to right) for rightward motion.”[%comments]