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: We examined the relation between motor performance and perception of object's size in near space. The general task was to repeatedly hit a target by means of pointing movements and to estimate target's size. In contrast to the results of previous studies, Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 revealed a negative relation between action ability and perceived target size: Participants who hit the target relatively often and whose motor variability was relatively low judged targets to be smaller than did participants whose motor performance was relatively poor. In Experiment 3, the size judgments were made in the presence of the target before, as well as after, pointing movements. The target was judged as smaller when it was easy, rather than difficult, to hit before as well as after the movement. Altogether, these results indicate that under certain conditions, an increased action ability reduces the apparent size of the actions' target objects.
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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)
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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.
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Oct 17, 2014