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Contextual and Personal Motor Experience Effects in Judo Referees’ Decisions

Fabrice Dosseville, Sylvain Laborde, and Markus Raab

We studied the influence of contextual factors and the referees’ own motor experience on the quality of their perceptual judgments. The theoretical framework combined the social cognition approach with the embodied cognition, and enabled us to determine whether judgments were biased or not by using a combination of contextual and internal factors. Sixty fully-qualified and aspiring judo referees were tested in a video-based decision-making task in which they had to decide when to stop the ground contact phase. The decision task differed depending on whether one contestant dominated the other or whether they were equal in the prior phase. Results indicated that the referees’ motor experience influenced perceptual judgments and interacted with contextual factors, enhancing the need for a combination of social and embodied cognition to explain biases in referees’ judgments. Practical considerations were discussed in this paper, such as, whether referees need recent motor experience and how this could influence rules of governing bodies for officiating.