Game Management, Context Effects, and Calibration: The Case of Yellow Cards in Soccer

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Referees in German first-league soccer games do not award as many yellow cards in the beginning of a game as should be statistically expected. One explanation for this effect is the concept of game management (Mascarenhas, Collins, & Mortimer, 2002). Alternatively, the consistency model (Haubensak, 1992) explains the effect as a necessity of the judgment situation: Referees need to calibrate a judgment scale, and, to preserve degrees of freedom in that scale, they need to avoid extreme category judgments in the beginning (i.e., yellow cards). Experiment 1 shows that referees who judge scenes in the context of a game award fewer yellow cards than referees who see the same scenes in random order. Experiment 2 shows the combined influence of game management (by explicitly providing information about the game situation) and calibration (early vs. late scenes in the time course of a game). Theoretical implications for expert refereeing and referee training are discussed.

Unkelbach is with the Social Psychology department in the Psychologisches Institut, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, and Memmert is with the Department of Human Movement Science, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

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