Anja Mitić, Isidora Wattles

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The purpose of news reports is to relate facts and information; however, in the press coverage of the games of the Serbian national football team the media stance on why and how the games were lost or won is very much present, thus placing the locus of control on internal or external axes. The aim of the paper is to examine if cognitive bias (locus of control, self-serving bias, fundamental attribution error) is present in the interpretation of sport outcomes in the public discourse and if so, whether it is reflected in a sample of the sports audience as well. A multimethod approach was used to analyze interpretive styles and different types of cognitive biases in the interpretation of the national football team's victories and losses in the sports press and among the sports audience during the World Cup in Qatar 2022. The authors conducted mixed method research, combining qualitative (critical discourse analysis) and quantitative methods (a survey conducted on 161 participants) reflecting linguistic and psychological theoretical frameworks. In the first phase, we identified linguistic means that shape interpretative tendencies in sports media. Elements of cognitive biases are recognized – self-serving bias, internal attribution and high affective involvement in the interpretation of victories, while defensive mechanisms through defensive attribution, externalization, distancing and passivization of the national team appear in the interpretation of losses. The survey revealed that male respondents are more prone to internalization when interpreting victories than female respondents, while older respondents are more prone to internalization when interpreting defeats.


cognitive bias, internal and external locus of control, critical discourse analysis, interpretation of sport outcomes, Serbian National Football Team

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