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Henning Plessner and Tilmann Betsch

In their comments on a study on penalty decisions in soccer (Plessner & Betsch, 2001), Mascarenhas, Collins, and Mortimer (2002) point to several factors that, in their view, weaken the external validity of this laboratory study. In our response, we argue that although it may be helpful to substantiate the prior findings in a study closer to the natural setting of refereeing, Mascarenhas et al. provide no conclusive argument as to why the observed judgment biases should vanish under more realistic conditions.

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Henning Plessner and Tilmann Betsch

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.

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Ralf Brand, Gerhard Schmidt, and Yvonne Schneeloch

In a study on penalty decisions in soccer, Plessner and Betsch (2001) refer to a social cognition framework and demonstrate that referees’ initial decisions exert an undesirable impact on later decisions. Mascarenhas, Collins, and Mortimer (2002) criticize this work for an error in the attribution of its findings. In their view, the referees’ efforts to manage games by permanently adjusting decisions to the actual flow of a game have been underestimated. In the present experiment, 113 elite (i.e., first and second league) basketball referees made decisions on videotaped contact situations. These were presented either in their original game sequence or as random successions of individual scenes. Results showed that referees in the condition with the removed sequential context awarded more rigorous sanctions than their colleagues. Findings are interpreted as an instance of empirical evidence for what Mascarenhas et al. (2002) have described as game management. It is argued that the idea of game management should be modeled and further explored within the theoretical concept of social information processing.