High and Mighty: Height Increases Authority in Professional Refereeing

Stulp, Gert, Buunk, Abraham, Verhulst, Simon and Pollet, Thomas (2012) High and Mighty: Height Increases Authority in Professional Refereeing. Evolutionary Psychology, 10 (3). p. 147470491201000. ISSN 1474-7049

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Throughout the animal kingdom, larger males are more likely to attain social dominance. Several lines of evidence suggest that this relationship extends to humans, as height is positively related to dominance, status and authority. We hypothesized that height is also a determinant of authority in professional refereeing. According to the International Football Association Board, FIFA, football (“soccer”) referees have full authority to enforce the laws of the game and should use their body language to show authority and to help control the match. We show that height is indeed positively related to authority status: referees were taller than their assistants (who merely have an advisory role) in both a national (French League) and an international (World Cup 2010) tournament. Furthermore, using data from the German League, we found that height was positively associated with authoritative behavior. Taller referees were better able to maintain control of the game by giving fewer fouls, thereby increasing the “flow of the game”. Referee height was also positively associated with perceived referee competence, as taller referees were assigned to matches in which the visiting team had a higher ranking. Thus, height appears to be positively related to authority in professional refereeing.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2017 15:48
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 05:22
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/32023

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