A Reputation Bias in Figure Skating Judging

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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The current study examined whether expectations, assumed to be created by the positive reputation of an athlete, produced a bias in judging at either the encoding or evaluation phase of sport performance appraisal. The short programs of 14 female figure skaters were evaluated by judges to whom the athletes were either known or unknown. Ordinal rankings were found to be higher when skaters were known by the judges as compared to when they were unknown. Furthermore, skaters received significantly higher technical merit marks when known, although artistic marks did not differ. No significant differences were found for the identification of elements or associated deductions, measures which were assumed to be indicative of the encoding phase of judging. These findings suggest that a reputation bias does exist when judging figure skating, and that it is present during the evaluation phase of sport performance appraisal, as reflected by the ordinal and technical merit marks.

The authors are with the School of Human Kinetics at the Univ. of Ottawa, 125 University Ave., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5. L.C.F. is now a PhD candidate at Carleton Univ.

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