The Japanese women’s soccer team stunned the United States a few weeks ago. After a tense match in which Team America seemed to have the upper hand throughout, Japan leveled the game with a late equalizer and then went on to win a penalty shootout.
New psychological research suggests that soccer goalkeepers and teams aren’t only affected by the high-stakes pressure of a penalty shootout. Without their awareness, goalkeepers also appear to be biased to dive to the right in some situations.
The consequences of this bias could potentially affect games ranging from casual pickup matches to world championships.
The bias primarily seems to affect goalkeepers when their teams are down, according to psychologists at the University of Amsterdam, who published their study in the journal Psychological Science. The psychologists believe the bias likely extends to other sports as well that involve rapid decision-making under pressure.
Read more: NPR