Goalkeepers often right

Goalkeepers trying to stop penalty shots tend to dive to the right, research suggests – but only when their team is behind.

A study of penalty shoot-outs in World Cup matches from 1982 to 2010 showed keepers usually dived left or right in more or less equal measure.

But when behind in the shootout, the added pressure made them select right more often, suggesting the humans’ “right-oriented” brains are to blame.

The study, to be published in Psychological Science, points out that many studies across the animal kingdom show a preference for the right in what would seem to be “50/50” situations.

After studying the World Cup footage, the team, from the University of Amsterdam continued their study in the laboratory, asking participants to divide a line in half.

Those thinking about a positive goal, or put under time pressure, tended to split the line more toward the right – suggesting that goalkeepers slightly favour the right side as well.

“It’s quite impressive. Even in this really important situation, people are still influenced by biological factors,” said University of Amsterdam co-author Marieke Roskes.

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