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Cheating: A Learned Behaviour

Amidst the clamour and glamour of a fantastic World Cup in Russia, the ugly spectre of play-acting and simulation was always lurking. PDP Assistant Editor, Jon Hoggard, considers the impact of cheating on such a big stage, and uses observational learning theory to highlight the importance of removing it from the game.


It’s the 17th minute of the World Cup Final. You’re dribbling at an angle towards the opposition box, with their well-drilled defensive line alert and ready, and your strikers are marked. You sense an opposing midfielder approach to your left – in a split second you have to decide whether to pass, dribble, evade the challenge, or dangle a leg to guarantee contact and hit the deck. You choose the latter, and your nation scores from the resulting free-kick. Goal! World Cup here we come! Cheating!

Cheating is a strong word. Am I calling Antoine Griezmann a cheat for what he did, above? Well, I guess I am and maybe a little harshly – he’s certainly not alone in acting that way. And, as acting goes, at...

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