Soccer Perspectives: Influence of Language & Memory Bias

emphasizing different perspectives and interpretations.

Analyzing a soccer match’s aftermath is captivating, chiefly when delving into the nuances of how words shape our interpretations. Notably, Raymond Verheijen emphasizes the subjective nature in which different stakeholders – be it fans, players, or coaches – perceive the game’s unfolding.

Read more: Soccer Perspectives: Influence of Language & Memory Bias

Words chosen often reflect the influences of personal coaches, fellow fans, or even television portrayals. Verheijen argues for a standard soccer language to foster clarity, akin to what’s observed in the military or aviation sectors. However, football’s interpretability does lead to intriguing debates and discussions, especially among coaches who differ in their post-match readings.

The Lack of a Universal Soccer Language

Soccer, despite its global reach, lacks a universal language. This gap often results in varied understandings, inadvertently fueling diverse and sometimes comical interpretations. Remember the famous incident linked here?

Elizabeth Loftus: Probing Memory’s Malleability

Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus’ extensive research delves into the susceptibility of memories to misleading post-event information. Findings reveal that an individual’s recollection of an event can be significantly altered by new data introduced in the intervening period. Notably, a pivotal study by Loftus and Palmer in 1974 substantiated this theory.

The Power of Language on Perception

In a groundbreaking experiment, participants viewed several traffic accident clips and were subsequently quizzed. The phrasing of the questions, especially the verbs used, like ‘hit’ or ‘collided,’ influenced their perceived speed estimates of the involved vehicles. This pivotal research highlights the power of question framing on eyewitness accounts, especially in crime scenes.

Memory Distortion through Interrogation Techniques

In another intriguing study involving multiple car crash footages, participants, after an initial round of questions, were quizzed a week later, this time with a new query about spotting broken glass. Those probed with dramatic verbs (e.g., “smashed”) were more likely to recall seeing shattered glass, underscoring how memory can be molded by questioning techniques.

Implications for the Soccer World

What Loftus and her peers illuminate is the profound influence of directed questions on recollections. These strategies could be tactically employed by journalists to elicit specific responses from coaches. Even coaches could leverage these techniques, subtly steering players’ perceptions. However, these are hypothetical connections between Loftus’ findings and soccer scenarios. It’s prudent to re-watch game footages objectively when revisiting match memories.


Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of auto-mobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal behavior, 13, 585-589.

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