This paper introduces a model on psychological momentum (PM) in sport (Vallerand, 1985, 1987) and presents preliminary results supportive of the model. The antecedents-consequences PM model postulates that PM refers to perceptions that the actor is progressing toward his/her goal. The model emphasizes that PM perception must be distinguished from its antecedents and performance consequences. In addition, personal and situational variables are hypothesized to lead to perceptions of PM while personal and contextual variables are hypothesized to moderate the PM-performance relationship. This study tested hypotheses derived from the model with respect to the impact of antecedent variables on PM perceptions and attempted to ascertain the link between PM perceptions and performance inferences. Subjects with high and low tennis experience read scenarios depicting a match between two tennis players wherein the score was tied at 5 all in the first set. Two versions of the scenarios were prepared so that the momentum pattern as manipulated by the score configuration was either present or absent. Results revealed that the presence of a PM pattern led to enhanced PM perceptions. In addition, both the score configuration and the experience variables led to inferences that the player having PM should win the first set, and there were some limited indications that such inferences generalized to winning the match. Results are discussed in light of the PM model, and directions for future research are underscored.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert J. Vallerand, Laboratory for Social Psychology, University of Québec at Montréal, Box 8888, Station A, Montréal, P.Q., Canada H3C 3P8.