‘Referees biased in favour of red’

August 9th, 2008 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  


Washington, Aug 9 (IANS) The choice of red for a uniform in competitive sports seems to influence the referee’s split-second decision-making ability in favour of the wearer. Norbert Hagemann, Bernd Strauss and Jan Leibing, psychologists from University of Munster, specifically found that referees tended to assign more points to taekwon do competitors dressed in red than those in blue.

They presented 42 experienced taekwon do referees with videos of blue-and-red-clad competitors sparring. The two sets of clips were identical except that the colours were reversed in the second set, making the red athlete appear to be wearing blue and vice versa.

The referees were then asked to score the performance of each competitor, red or blue, after each video.

The psychologists found that when the competitors appeared to be wearing red, they were awarded an average of 13 percent more points than the blue competitors, even though every athlete was presented in both colours at some point.

Besides, points awarded seemed to increase after the blue athlete was digitally transformed into a red athlete and decrease when the red competitor changed to blue.

“Although there is a need for further research, our results suggest a need to change the rules or support referees by providing electronic decision-making aids in those sports in which this colour bias may be a problem,” they concluded.

These findings will appear in the August issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

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