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 between participants’ successive penalty decisions concerning the same team, and a positive correlation between successive penalty decisions concerning first one and then the opposing team.
The authors are with the Psychological Institute, University of Heidelberg, Haupt-strasse 47-51, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.