Emotional contagion in association football penalty shootouts

A talk at 13th FEPSAC European Congress of Sport Psychology July 2011 on Madeira, Portugal.

We examined the association between celebratory responses after successful football penalty kicks and the outcome of a penalty shootout. Method: Individually displayed post-shot behaviours in penalty shootouts held in World Cup and the European Championships (N = 151) were rated on the presence of universally distinct and recognizable behaviours associated with positive emotions. Using Chi-Square analyses we investigated which behaviours were associated with winning the shootout, with measurements conducted when the relative standing between the teams was equal.

Players who engaged in certain celebratory post-shot behaviours were more likely to be in the team that ultimately won the penalty shootout. In particular, celebrations including both arms were associated with winning the shootout. It was more likely that the next kick taken by an opponent was missed after a player displayed these behaviours after a goal than when he did not.

The findings are interpreted in terms of emotional contagion, that is, the transference of emotions from individuals onto team-mates and opponents. It is suggested that the individual expression of post-performance emotions serves a direct purpose in enhancing future team performance and that emotional contagion is an important process to consider in the context of elite sport performance.

Moll, T., Jordet, G., & Pepping, G.-J. (2010). Winning a soccer penalty shootout: celebrate individual success and you will yield ultimate team success. Journal of Sports Sciences. 28(9), 983–992.

Gert-Jan Pepping is an Associate Professor in Human Movement at the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences of AUstralian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia.

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Posted in Dynamical Systems, Football, My own research

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