Get Me Out of This Slump! Visual Illusions Improve Sports Performance

Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 03/2012; 23(4):397-9. DOI: 10.1177/0956797611428810
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Whether trying to win Presidential primaries, trading stocks, or playing sports, performance-enhancing effects of psychological momentum (PM) are widely accepted. But, does initial success (S₁) lead to subsequent success (S₂) in and of itself due to increased know-how on one’s and opponents’ performance or because it creates psychological force (momentum) that mediates this relationship? We review research on the phenomenon and show its strong empirical foundations in various domains of human performance. To advance research, we present an organizing theoretical framework that proposes both mediating and moderating effects of PM as mechanisms to explain why success breeds success in general. Initial success is critical for PM and has 3 types of effects: intensity, frequency, and duration. Whether performing alone (trader) or against an opponent (tennis player), perceptions of self as a performer (Sp) and of opponent as a performer (Op) are at the center of PM. The theory posits that the more the initial success separates the two (Op/Sp), the greater the PM. These and associated perceptions, however, have to turn into an increased subjective probability of winning or succeeding before PM becomes a psychological force. Evidence supports the mediating mechanism since initial success increases PM, which in turn enhances subsequent success. When initial success with PM leads to a greater likelihood of subsequent success than without PM, PM then modifies (“moderates”) the S₁–S₂ relationship without PM’s independent effect on S₂. There is also tentative evidence for a moderated mediation effect as the influence of PM seems to be greater for male than female performers. Areas of future research are highlighted. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
    Review of General Psychology 03/2014; 18(1):19. DOI:10.1037/a0036406 · 1.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Witt, Linkenauger, and Proffitt (Psychological Science, 23, 397-399, 2012) demonstrated that golf putting performance was enhanced when the hole was surrounded by small circles, making it look larger, relative to when it was surrounded by large circles, making it look smaller. In the present study, we examined whether practicing putting with small or large surrounding circles would have not only immediate effects on performance, but also longer-lasting effects on motor learning. Two groups of nongolfers practiced putting golf balls to a 10.4-cm circle ("hole") from a distance of 2 m. Small or large circles were projected around the hole during the practice phase. Perception of hole size was affected by the size of the surrounding circles. Also, self-efficacy was higher in the group with the perceived larger hole. One day after practice, participants performed the putting task, but without visual illusions (i.e., a retention test). Putting accuracy in retention was greater for the group that had practiced with the perceived larger hole. These findings suggest that the apparently larger target led to the more effective learning outcome.
    Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 10/2014; DOI:10.3758/s13423-014-0744-9 · 2.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The speed-accuracy trade-off is a fundamental movement problem that has been extensively investigated. It has been established that the speed at which one can move to tap targets depends on how large the targets are and how far they are apart. These spatial properties of the targets can be quantified by the index of difficulty (ID). Two visual illusions are known to affect the perception of target size and movement amplitude: the Ebbinghaus illusion and Muller-Lyer illusion. We created visual images that combined these two visual illusions to manipulate the perceived ID, and then examined people's visual perception of the targets in illusory context as well as their performance in tapping those targets in both discrete and continuous manners. The findings revealed that the combined visual illusions affected the perceived ID similarly in both discrete and continuous judgment conditions. However, the movement outcomes were affected by the combined visual illusions according to the tapping mode. In discrete tapping, the combined visual illusions affected both movement accuracy and movement amplitude such that the effective ID resembled the perceived ID. In continuous tapping, none of the movement outcomes were affected by the combined visual illusions. Participants tapped the targets with higher speed and accuracy in all visual conditions. Based on these findings, we concluded that distinct visual-motor control mechanisms were responsible for execution of discrete and continuous Fitts' tapping. Although discrete tapping relies on allocentric information (object-centered) to plan for action, continuous tapping relies on egocentric information (self-centered) to control for action. The planning-control model for rapid aiming movements is supported.
    Psychological Research 12/2014; DOI:10.1007/s00426-014-0641-x · 2.47 Impact Factor


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Oct 17, 2014