Washington: A new study has found that goalkeepers usually tend to dive to the right in penalty shoot-outs when their team is behind on the scoreboard.
Many earlier studies have found that people and animals that want something tend to go to the right.
When dogs see their owners, they wag their tails more to the right; toads strike to the right when they’re going for prey; and humans are more likely to turn their heads to the right to smooch their sweeties.
Marieke Roskes, who co-authored the study with Daniel Sligte, Shaul Shalvi, and Carsten K.W. De Dreu of the University of Amsterdam, thought of looking at this phenomenon in another arena: the soccer field.
The researchers examined every penalty shoot-out in every World Cup from 1982 to 2010 and found that most of the time, goalies are equally like to dive right and left.
But when the goalkeeper’s team was behind, he was more likely to dive right than left.
In an experiment, the team found that people who are told to divide a line in half tend to aim a bit to the right when they are both thinking about a positive goal and under time pressure—just like the goalies.
“It’s quite impressive. Even in this really important situation, people are still influenced by biological factors,” Roskes stated.
She says this suggests that in many situations where people are focused on a positive outcome and have to react quickly, they may go right.
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
First Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 14:17