Emotion in decision making : the case of sport refereeing.

Abstract : Introduction: Many researches have focused on referee decision making; few have taken their emotions into account. When emotions are studied, they are usually assessed through questionnaires filled out before or after the game. Results only provide information on how the referees relate to their emotions. Our aim is to study how emotions contribute, during the match, to referees’ judgment acts. Referees’ judgment acts show and impose on the players what is possible (Rix, 2005). We seek to determine whether 1) a negative affect arises from the referees’ relationship to the unfolding game; 2) judgment acts are able to end this unsatisfactory situation. Method: We have investigated 4 games in a professional rugby championship. Each game was filmed from the stands, the referee was equipped with a head-mounted camera, and a self-confrontation interview was realized. The head-mounted video was used during the interview in order to foster an experiential immersion. Results: We analyzed the interview excerpts in which the referee reported affective dissatisfaction. It revealed two distinct cases. In the first case, affective dissatisfaction was related to an abnormal situation. The referee showed what was abnormal and overcame his dissatisfaction through a judgment act. In the second case, affective dissatisfaction was related to a paradoxical situation. The return to a satisfactory state occurred when a norm became predominant to determine the normality/abnormality of the situation within its unfolding. Discussion: Dosseville et al. (2011) suggested that the perception of players’ action provokes an emotion that will guide the decision. Our results support partially this proposal. Negative affect was the basis for the referees’ judgment acts: what was perceived as abnormal in the moment or in the dynamics of the situation led the referee to whistle. But it is not the perception of action that causes an emotion; affect is at the heart of referees’ perceptions of player activity. Every perception is an assessment of what is happening in terms of personal well-being (Lazarus, 2001). This appraisal is not the result of deliberation; it is instantaneous and results from a mostly unconscious and embodied process. These proposals might lead some authors to denounce bias in refereeing judgments and to find an affective explanation of biases in perception and/or categorization. Instead we emphasize the implacable logic of emotion and its rationality (Lazarus, 2001); we claim the necessity to investigate this rationality to better understand referee naturalistic decision making. References: Dosseville F., Laborde S., Traclet A. & Koffi P.E. (2011) STAPS 93(3), 51-60. Lazarus R.S. (2001) in Scherer, Schorr & Johnstone, Appraisal processes in emotion, Oxford University Press. Rix G. (2005) Sc. & Mot. 56(3), 109-124.
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Géraldine Rix-Lièvre, Michel Récopé, Simon Boyer, Mathis Grimonprez. Emotion in decision making : the case of sport refereeing.. 18th Annual congress of the European College of Sport Science, Jun 2013, Barcelona, Spain. ⟨hal-01120747⟩



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