It’s (not) only a game: Insights for organizational behaviour from research into professional sport

Dr Mark Robinson will present two research projects examining professional sports which offer insights into the field of organizational behaviour.

About the speaker: 

Dr Mark Robinson is an Associate Professor in the Management Department of Leeds University Business School. He is an organizational psychologist with interdisciplinary research interests in human performance, safety management, and quantitative research methods. 


This seminar will present two research projects examining professional sport which offer insights for the field of organizational behaviour.

The first project examined the psychological wellbeing of World Cup football supporters (N = 341) using a quasi-experiment to analyse how gaps between prior expectations and their team’s subsequent achievements influenced their satisfaction and happiness. As expected, satisfaction increased when achievements exceeded expectations, decreased when achievements did not meet expectations, and remained stable for a control group. Notably, however, there was also a curvilinear three-way interaction between expectations, achievements, and social identity when predicting satisfaction, offering theoretical insights for both expectation disconfirmation theory and prospect theory.

The second project examined performance improvements in Olympic athletes (N = 2,906 performances) in response to seemingly impossible goals arising serendipitously from a transient technological development. Using an interrupted time-series natural experiment design, analyses indicated that recalibrating expectations upward can improve performances of even elite athletes already operating at human limits. Furthermore, a curvilinear relationship was found where performance improvements increased at a decreasing rate before plateauing as goal difficulty increased, offering insights for goal-setting theory.

The seminar will conclude by discussing the methodological benefits and challenges of incorporating naturalistic data into social science research.  

Please contact Dr Chiahuei Wu if you have any questions.