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Action bias among elite soccer goalkeepers: The case of penalty kicks

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  • Bar-Eli, Michael
  • Azar, Ofer H.
  • Ritov, Ilana
  • Keidar-Levin, Yael
  • Schein, Galit

Abstract

In soccer penalty kicks, goalkeepers choose their action before they can clearly observe the kick direction. An analysis of 286 penalty kicks in top leagues and championships worldwide shows that given the probability distribution of kick direction, the optimal strategy for goalkeepers is to stay in the goal's center. Goalkeepers, however, almost always jump right or left. We propose the following explanation for this behavior: because the norm is to jump, norm theory (Kahneman and Miller, 1986) implies that a goal scored yields worse feelings for the goalkeeper following inaction (staying in the center) than following action (jumping), leading to a bias for action. The omission bias, a bias in favor of inaction, is reversed here because the norm here is reversed - to act rather than to choose inaction. The claim that jumping is the norm is supported by a second study, a survey conducted with 32 top professional goalkeepers. The seemingly biased decision making is particularly striking since the goalkeepers have huge incentives to make correct decisions, and it is a decision they encounter frequently. Finally, we discuss several implications of the action/omission bias for economics and management.
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Suggested Citation

  • Bar-Eli, Michael & Azar, Ofer H. & Ritov, Ilana & Keidar-Levin, Yael & Schein, Galit, 2007. "Action bias among elite soccer goalkeepers: The case of penalty kicks," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 606-621, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:28:y:2007:i:5:p:606-621
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    Cited by:

    1. Shachat, Jason & Swarthout, J. Todd & Wei, Lijia, 2015. "A Hidden Markov Model For The Detection Of Pure And Mixed Strategy Play In Games," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 729-752, August.
    2. Nejat Anbarci & Ching-Jen Sun & M. Utku Ünver, 2015. "Designing Fair Tiebreak Mechanisms for Sequential Team Contests," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 871, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 15 Feb 2018.
    3. Emara, Noha & Owens, David & Smith, John & Wilmer, Lisa, 2017. "Serial correlation in National Football League play calling and its effects on outcomes," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 125-132.
    4. Ahmad Barirani & Randolph Sloof & Mirjam van Praag, 2017. "The Origins and Extent of Entrepreneurial Action-Orientedness: An Experimental Study," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-006/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    5. Ofer Azar & Michael Bar-Eli, 2011. "Do soccer players play the mixed-strategy Nash equilibrium?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(25), pages 3591-3601.
    6. Gernot Wagner & Richard Zeckhauser, 2012. "Climate policy: hard problem, soft thinking," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 507-521, February.
    7. Germán Coloma, 2012. "The penalty-kick game under incomplete information," CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. 487, Universidad del CEMA.
    8. Eyal Peer & Lidor Solomon, 2012. "Professionally biased: Misestimations of driving speed, journey time and time-savings among taxi and car drivers," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(2), pages 165-172, March.
    9. Duffy, Sean & Naddeo, JJ & Owens, David & Smith, John, 2016. "Cognitive load and mixed strategies: On brains and minimax," MPRA Paper 71878, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:294-305 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Emara, Noha & Owens, David & Smith, John & Wilmer, Lisa, 2014. "Minimax on the gridiron: Serial correlation and its effects on outcomes in the National Football League," MPRA Paper 58907, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Ert, Eyal & Erev, Ido, 2008. "The rejection of attractive gambles, loss aversion, and the lemon avoidance heuristic," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 715-723, November.
    13. Gelade Garry, 2014. "Evaluating the ability of goalkeepers in English Premier League football," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-8, June.
    14. Azar, Ofer H., 2014. "The default heuristic in strategic decision making: When is it optimal to choose the default without investing in information search?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(8), pages 1744-1748.
    15. Paul J. Healy & John Conlon & Yeochang Yoon, 2016. "Information Cascades with Informative Ratings: An Experimental Test," Working Papers 16-05, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
    16. Feri, Francesco & Innocenti, Alessandro & Pin, Paolo, 2013. "Is there psychological pressure in competitive environments?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 249-256.
    17. Sandri, Serena & Schade, Christian & Mußhoff, Oliver & Odening, Martin, 2010. "Holding on for too long? An experimental study on inertia in entrepreneurs' and non-entrepreneurs' disinvestment choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 30-44, October.
    18. Morgulev, Elia & Azar, Ofer H. & Lidor, Ronnie & Sabag, Eran & Bar-Eli, Michael, 2014. "Deception and decision making in professional basketball: Is it beneficial to flop?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 108-118.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines

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