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Athletes have home advantage, LSBU research finds

Research conducted by LSBU and Staffordshire University academics has found scientific evidence that the home-side advantage does exist
06 February 2014

Psychological scientists Dr Mark Allen of LSBU and Marc Jones of Staffordshire University published their research in this month's issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

It has previously been believed that home crowds that show encouraging behaviour, such as cheering, are linked with home-team success.  However, the research suggests this advantage remains even when there is no crowd.

The research suggests this could be due to travel fatigue. A previous study indicates that the home advantage increases by as much as 20% with every time zone the away team must cross.

There is a phenomenon called the 'territoriality model', which links the home advantage as a reflection of a players' natural tendency to defend their home turf. One study found that professional sportsmen showed significantly higher testosterone levels before home games compared to before away games and neutral training sessions. Increased testosterone may benefit athletic performance through physical aggression and motivation to compete.

"There is good evidence for a home nation advantage in previous winter Olympics, particularly in team sports, such as ice hockey, and sports that are subjectively judged, such as figure skating," says Mark, who is a Senior Lecturer in LSBU's Department of Applied Sciences.

"Russia can be expected to achieve a greater number of gold medals than they achieved at the 2010 winter Olympics," he adds.

The collaborative research has already been featured in The Daily Mail, The Economist, and The Daily Express.

Read the full journal article The "Home Advantage" in Athletic Competitions in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.