Here’s an interesting article about the effects of social pressure on refs’ behavior in soccer matches:
Talk about an excellent opportunity to conduct a real-world social experiment—apparently the powers that be in soccer kept games from being present at certain stadiums for a month due to stadium security concerns (I hadn’t heard about this, but then again I don’t watch soccer). The researchers were thus able to compare ref behavior/bias both with and without home crowds.
Long story short, the refs tend to penalize the home team more, even when compared to the away team, when no crowd is present for haranguing. The researchers suggest that referees overcompensate for bias by penalizing the home team more than the away team; crowd pressure simply equalizes the bias by causing refs to not penalize the home team as much for fear of making the crowd any more angry than it already is.
This overcompensation for potential bias on the part of referees is interesting..