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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02380

Pressing crowd noise impairs the ability of anxious basketball referees to discriminate fouls

  • 1Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy
  • 2Department of Medical Area, University of Udine, Italy
  • 3Department of Psycho-socio-educational Analysis and Intervention, University of Vigo, Spain
  • 4Department of Medicine, Surgery and Health Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy

The decision-making processes of referees in sports are affected by many factors, including the pressure of spectators. While the home/visitor bias has been previously investigated, the role of crowd noise has been less studied. In the present study, we investigated how the crowd noise (calm vs. pressing) influence the decisions of basketball referees, when examining videos of potential fouls. In doing so, we also considered the level of competitive anxiety of referees (low vs. high anxiety), as factor potentially interacting with the pressure exerted by the spectators. A 2x2 ANOVA (Crowd noise x Anxiety) revealed a significant interaction [F (1, 28) = 7.33; p < 0.05; ηp2 = 0.21; power = 0.74], with the highly anxious referees showing poorer performances in the pressing crowd condition [t(14) = 2.24; p < 0.05; d = 0.64]. The results indicate that the crowd noise does not seem to affect the referees’ decisions, unless we consider the anxiety. The present findings suggest that the decisions of referees with high anxiety might be more easily influenced by external factors like crowd noise. Based on these results, referees’ federations should consider the possibility to develop training protocols dedicated to highly anxious referees, to avoid their decisions from being biased by spectators’ pressure.

Keywords: Referees, Basketball, crowd noise, Anxiety, Fouls, Sport, Sound

Received: 17 Sep 2019; Accepted: 07 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Sors, Tomé Lourido, Parisi, Santoro, Galmonte, Agostini and Murgia. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Mauro Murgia, University of Trieste, Department of Life Sciences, Trieste, 34127, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy,