Officials in sport operate in a naturalistic environment making rapid decisions under stress. Understanding the process in which officials make decision is important to improve decision accuracy and task performance. In sport, decision making research has identified consistent results between the three different ‘variations’ of the Recognition Primed Decision (RPD) model. Naturalistic research into officials in sport has identified factors which affect performance however no research has applied naturalistic decision making models to official in sports decision making. We presents the findings from a study applying the RPD model to the decision making of Australian Rules Football (AFL) umpires. Applying an innovative naturalistic research method, we recorded, transcribed and analysed the in-game communication between teams of AFL umpire, integrating an established model with a new analytical technique. Audible communication instances were transcribed and analysed to determine if tit conformed to one of the three RPD model variations. The results identified that 78% of the decision moments were classified as Variation 1, 18% as Variation 2 and 3.5 % as Variation 3 within the RPD model. As such we identified that decision making in AFL umpires is characterized by a similar RPD breakdown as decision making by players in sport. Despite differences in role, decision making is similar. Further, AFL umpires’ RPD variation is influenced by the game situation and type of adjudication being made. This study has also used the in game verbalisation to identify the type of decisions being made, an innovative methodological approach in the field of naturalistic decision making.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015