Monday, February 1, 2010

Foul? What foul?

For another example of how deeply-ingrained biases can affect our judgment -- even when we try to be objective -- check out this recent study on fouls during soccer games. (And thanks to my old soccer teammate Robbie Woodward for sending it along.)

Researchers at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, researched all recorded fouls in three major soccer competitions over seven years. They discovered an ambiguous foul is more likely to be attributed to the taller of two players.

Similar studies of over the years have found that the judgment of referees can be biased by other factors, too -- such as the color of a hockey team's jersey (teams with black jerseys accrue more fouls) or even the racial makeup of officiating crew in the National Basketball Association.

But we go on pretending the biases don't exist.

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