A 2009 study identified four distinct actions that may indicate a player is taking a dive. These are: Taking fully controlled strides before falling; clutching a part of the body where the player was not hit, such as when a player is kicked in the right leg, but clutches the left leg; taking extra rolls after falling and hitting the ground; and performing an exaggerated and unnatural gesture of raising the arms above the shoulders and extending the chest while falling, which researchers dubbed “the archer’s bow.”
The 2009 study was published in the Springer Journal of Nonverbal Behavior by Paul Morris, an expert on the embodiment of emotions and intentions in the Department of Psychology at the University of Portsmouth.
A separate study, led by Robbie Wilson of the University of Queensland, found that dives most often occur when a player is near the offensive goal or when a match is tied. Wilson’s study found players dove more often when referees rewarded such behavior.
Case in point: During this year’s World Cup in Russia, Brazil’s Neymar has found himself the subject of relentless mockery for his frequent flops. But with Brazil in the round of eight, what incentive does he have to stop?