Inter-individual differences in sport refereeing: A review of theory and practice

Simcha Avugos, Clare MacMahon, Michael Bar-Eli, Markus Raab

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Most studies on sport officials ignore the variance of the data in terms of individual differences. Here we highlight the need to focus on these differences in refereeing as the main point and goal of the current review. We argue that the study of individual differences is important for referee selection, development and performance evaluation. We present the available research on differences related to referee communication styles, types of interactions, and game management. We regard expertise and experience level as a key contributor to individual differences. Given the gap in research around the in-group variance, we discuss new directions for research and further recommendations for the field. We suggest that the areas in which more research and practice will inform our selection, training, and evaluation processes are communication and personal communication style, while having more flexibility in applying different refereeing styles to facilitate performance in different contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101926
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Contextual judgment
  • Decision making
  • Individual difference
  • Sports official
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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