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Expectations as Reference Points: Field Evidence from Experienced Subjects in a Competitive, High-Stakes Environment

  • Björn Bartling
  • Leif Brandes
  • Daniel Schunk

We show that professional soccer players exhibit reference-dependent behavior during matches. Controlling for the state of the match and for unobserved heterogeneity, we show on a minute-by-minute basis that a player breaches the rules of the game, measured by the referee’s assignment of cards, with a significantly higher probability if his team is behind the expected match outcome, measured by pre-play betting odds of large professional bookmakers. We derive these results in two independent data sets, one from ten seasons of the German Bundesliga, the other from eight seasons the English Premier League, each with more than half a million minutes of play.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3830.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3830
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  1. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller & Philipp Weinschenk, 2010. "Binary Payment Schemes: Moral Hazard and Loss Aversion," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_38, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  2. Johannes Abeler & Armin Falk & Lorenz Goette & David Huffman, 2009. "Reference Points and Effort Provision," Discussion Papers 2009-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Sutter, Matthias & Kocher, Martin G., 2004. "Favoritism of agents - The case of referees' home bias," Munich Reprints in Economics 18180, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Syngjoo Choi & Raymond Fisman & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2007. "Consistency and Heterogeneity of Individual Behavior under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1921-1938, December.
  5. Vincent P Crawford & Juanjuan Meng, 2008. "New York City Cabdrivers’ Labor Supply Revisited: Reference-Dependent Preferences with Rational-Expectations Targets for Hours and Income," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002281, David K. Levine.
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  7. Botond Kőszegi & Paul Heidhues, 2008. "Competition and Price Variation When Consumers Are Loss Averse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1245-68, September.
  8. Luis Garicano & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Canice Prendergast, 2005. "Favoritism Under Social Pressure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 208-216, May.
  9. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria L., 2009. "A Structural Analysis of Disappointment Aversion in a Real Effort Competition," IZA Discussion Papers 4536, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Price, Joseph & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees," IZA Discussion Papers 2863, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson & Andreas Fuster, 2011. "Expectations as Endowments: Evidence on Reference-Dependent Preferences from Exchange and Valuation Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1879-1907.
  12. Ockenfels, Axel & Sliwka, Dirk & Werner, Peter, 2010. "Bonus Payments and Reference Point Violations," IZA Discussion Papers 4795, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Martin G. Kocher & Marc V. Lenz & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: New Evidence from Randomized Natural Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1585-1591, August.
  14. Dohmen, Thomas, 2005. "Do Professionals Choke Under Pressure?," IZA Discussion Papers 1905, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Card, David & Dahl, Gordon B., 2010. "Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 4869, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Mark Walker & John Wooders, 2001. "Minimax Play at Wimbledon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1521-1538, December.
  17. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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