Emotion and decision making in refereeing: the affective core of judgment acts

Abstract : This study examined the origin and the role of emotions in decision making in refereeing. It is based on a new conception of refereeing, which considers referees’ decisions during games as judgment acts (Rix, 2005). Referees’ judgment acts show and impose on players what is possible. According to the enactive approach, which is an alternative to the classical cognitivist approach, affects and cognition intertwine to a great extent (Colombetti, 2014): there is no difference in kind between affectivity and cognition, there is no cognition without affect, and affects always have a cognitive element. That is why the word “sense-making” is used, intimately related to the one of Umwelt: it entails a point of view from which the adaptive autonomous system and the environment are evaluated. To be a sense-making system is to live in a world that has a specific significance or value for it, and to behave according to norms that it brings forth in interaction with the world. This then implies a discerning perspective on the part of the system (here, the referee), from which the organism discriminates what is good or bad for itself, in various degrees. This last point is valuable because it enables both a relationship to be established and a difference to be made between an affect and an emotion. Such a claim is enhanced from the appraisal theory of emotions by Scherer & Sangsue (2004), who rejects the existence of separate cognitive and affective systems, an idea that they call Plato’s error: the distinction between cognition, emotion and conation is not yet overcome, and it compromises progress toward integrative approaches which is now an urgent need. Backed onto the enactive position that there are deep affective and normative modes -we call them “sensibility to …” (Récopé & al., 2014) which engage our world at a level that precede and underlies our perceptions and our conscious emotional experiences, this study examined how they contribute to judgment acts. The two mains goals were to verify: (1) whether the negative affects felt by referees arise from their normative relationship to the unfolding game, and (2) whether judgment acts are able to end their unsatisfactory situation. Method This study used a long-term ethnographic approach and incorporated other specific research methods to investigate official matches in the French professional rugby championship. For each investigation, (1) the match was filmed from the stands, (2) the referee was equipped with a head-mounted camera, and (3) after the game, the referee was asked to describe his activity during a self-confrontation interview based on the latter video recording. We analyzed the interview excerpts in which the referees reported negative affects and distinguished two cases. In the first case, dissatisfaction was related to an abnormal situation. The referee showed what was not “normal” for him and overcame his dissatisfaction through a judgment act. In the second one, dissatisfaction was related to a paradoxical situation. The return to a state of satisfaction occurred when, within the dynamics of the situation, a norm or value became sufficiently predominant to allow the referee to determine the normality or abnormality of the situation. Results & Discussion The ethnographic materials we present confirm and specify the main assumptions of the enactive approach. They open another account of interventions of the referee when the situation appears to him as unacceptable. They reveal, and -by virtue of the notion of “sensibility to… - allow the interpretation of the norms and values (Canguilhem, 1989) underlying the internal conflicts, sometimes (often?) at work within the referee’s activity. References Canguilhem, G. (1989). The normal and the pathological. New York: Zone books. Colombetti, G. (2014). The Feeling Body. Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind. Cambridge: MIT Press. Récopé, M., Rix-Lièvre, G., Marion Kellin, M., & Boyer, S. (2014). Une appropriation singulière par les STAPS des hypothèses de l’énaction. In M. Quidu (Ed.), Les Sciences du sport en mouvement : tome II (pp. 94-115). Paris: L’Harmattan. Rix, G. (2005). Typologie des actes de jugement de l'arbitre de rugby expérimenté. Science et Motricité, 56(3), 109-124. Scherer, K. R., & Sangsue, J. (2004). Le système mental en tant que composant de l’émotion. In G. Kirouac (Ed.), Cognition et Émotions (pp. 11-36). Québec: PUQ.
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Michel Récopé, Géraldine Rix-Lièvre, Simon Boyer. Emotion and decision making in refereeing: the affective core of judgment acts. First International Conference on the Science and Practice of Sports Refereeing, Sep 2014, Clermont-Ferrand, France. ⟨hal-01120769⟩

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