Psychological Momentum and Skill Performance: A Laboratory Study

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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This study used a laboratory setting and a novel motor skill to investigate psychological momentum and its relationship to performance. Subjects were paired» placed in competition in a novel motor task, and given false feedback concerning the outcome of games. Positive or negative momentum conditions were imposed by manipulating their experiences of victory or defeat as the match progressed. The actual performance and error scores for each subject were recorded after each game. The results indicated that subjects in positive conditions felt they had a high frequency of positive psychological momentum and that subjects in negative conditions felt they had a high frequency of negative psychological momentum. However» comparing mean performance and error scores of subjects in the two momentum conditions over the entire contest; comparing them in the last two games of a set, winners versus losers; and examining the predictive power of set outcome on performance and error scores in the next two games of the following set failed to demonstrate a significant performance effect.

J.M. Silva and A.E. Cornelius are with the Department of Physical Education, Exercise, and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8700. L.M. Finch is now with the Department of Physical Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412.

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