This post first appeared on pygaze.org, in December 2015.
Every two years, the Dutch Psychonomic Society (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychonomie, or NVP) organises a Winter Conference. The 2015 edition features really exciting keynotes, talks, and poster presentations. These contributions are primarily by Dutch people, but the atmosphere is very international due to the large number of Dutch academics working outside of the Netherlands, and the large number of internationals working at Dutch universities. My contribution to the event is rather modest: I’m presenting a poster on our work in speed skating, and I will be helping out at the OpenSesame booth.
Dates and Times
Poster: How alerting affects can bias speed skating competitions!
Thursday, 17 December, 17:00 – 19:00 (Poster Session 1), Lounge 1 or 2
OpenSesame booth: With cool demos and answers to all your questions!
Thursday to Saturday, 17-19 December, all day (staffed during breaks), Lounge 1 or 2
Life is unfair, and so is speed skating: Some athletes can randomly benefit from alerting effects due to inconsistent starting procedures
Edwin S. Dalmaijer 1, Beorn Nijenhuis 2, Stefan Van der Stigchel 2
1 Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
2 Department of Experimental Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
The Olympics are the world’s largest sporting events, attracting billions of viewers worldwide. An important part is speed skating. In this sport, athletes compete against each other in paired races to determine who wins the gold. At each race’s start, the referee waits for a variable interval between cueing athletes to get “Ready” and the starting shot. This closely resembled an alerting experiment, in which reaction times are lowest for an optimal interval, and progressively slower with longer intervals. Here we examine skaters’ performance in the 500 meter speed-skating competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics. We demonstrate that the time between “Ready” and the start (the ready-start interval) is a significant predictor of speed skaters’ times at both 100 meters and at the finish, with longer ready-start intervals resulting in higher race times. This suggests high-level speed-skating competitions are biased to randomly disadvatage some athletes. This bias could be removed by simple alterations to current starting procedures. The proposed change would greatly improve racing sport fairness, which currently suffers from an injustice that disadvantages not only athletes, but entire nations rooting for them.
The poster we presented at NVP 2015 can be found on FigShare.
Some of the findings we included in our poster, have been published in Perspective and Commentary articles in Frontiers in Experimental Psychology:
- Dalmaijer, E.S., Nijenhuis, B.G., & Van der Stigchel, S. (2015). Life is unfair, and so are racing sports: Some athletes can randomly benefit from alerting effects due to inconsistent starting procedures. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(1618). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01618
- Dalmaijer, E.S., Nijenhuis, B.G., & Van der Stigchel, S. (2016). Commentary: Life is unfair, and so are racing sports: Some athletes can randomly benefit from alerting effects due to inconsistent starting procedures. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(119). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00119
In addition to the articles mentioned above, we have also blogged on the topic:
- Post on the original article: Life is unfair, and so are racing sports
- Post on an additional analysis: Is skating really unfair? Yes, even in extra stringent analysis.
- Post on 100-meter times: Is skating really unfair? Yes, even at 100m times.