Tag Archives: bias

On bias and referees in Serie A

This is great:

This paper studies how social pressure affects the behavior of soccer referees. We make use of an attractive source of exogenous variation in the number of spectators at matches. Due to recent hooligan violence, the Italian government has implemented a regulation that some soccer teams must temporarily play home matches in empty stadiums. We find that referees punish away players much more harshly and home players much more lightly when the games are played in front of spectators compared to when they are not. We find no evidence for the alternative hypothesis that home and away players are affected differently in these games along a number of different outcomes of players, such as the number of tackles. Our results therefore suggest that referees exhibit home bias caused by social pressure from the spectators.

That’s from Behavior under Social Pressure: Empty Italian Stadiums and Referee Bias by Per Pettersson-Lidbom and Mikael Priks at the University of Stockholm. Given that Italian soccer has suffered severely in recent years over allegations (and more than allegations!) of widespread collusion and Mafia involvement, I am sure that there is more to be told…but how to get the data?

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Absence of racial, but not gender, stereotyping in Williams syndrome children

That is the title of this study by Santos, Meyer-Lindenberg, and Deruelle in the latest issue of Current Biology:

Stereotypes — often implicit attributions to an individual based on group membership categories such as race, religion, age, gender, or nationality — are ubiquitous in human interactions. Even three-year old children clearly prefer their own ethnic group and discriminate against individuals of different ethnicities [1]. While stereotypes may enable rapid behavioural decisions with incomplete information, such biases can lead to conflicts and discrimination, especially because stereotypes can be implicit and automatic [2], making an understanding of the origin of stereotypes an important scientific and socio-political topic. An important process invoked by out-groups is social fear [3]. A unique opportunity to study the contribution of this mechanism to stereotypes is afforded by individuals with the microdeletion disorder Williams syndrome (WS), in which social fear is absent, leading to an unusually friendly, high approachability behaviour, including towards strangers [4]. Here we show that children with WS lack racial stereotyping, though they retain gender stereotyping, compared to matched typically developing children. Our data indicate that mechanisms for the emergence of gender versus racial bias are neurogenetically dissociable. Specifically, because WS is associated with reduced social fear, our data support a role of social fear processing in the emergence of racial, but not gender, stereotyping.

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On Overcoming Biases: The Wine Critic

Lisa Perotti-Brown, MW, solicited comments from sommeliers on how many wines one can reasonably taste and evaluate in a day. I found this answer to be particularly worth noting:

“I reckon the optimum amount of wines to taste blind is 60 in a day,” commented Andrew Caillard MW of Langton’s Auction House in Australia.  “This is enough to taste, write a reasonable tasting note, review and memorize. Anything significantly over this is a struggle and requires short cutting. Anyone who says they can do more than this truly effectively is having him or herself on. The late Dr John Middleton of Mount Mary used to say it is 12 wines. Fatigue is a real issue and leads to inaccuracy. More alarming is the poor allocation of points and the lack of empathy for other cultural values that pervades among wine critics. Critics applaud individuality but assume that taste and received wisdom is homogenous across cultures.”

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