The Effects of Overt Head Movements on Physical Performance After Positive Versus Negative Self-Talk

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Research on self-talk has found that what athletes say to themselves influences their performance in sport settings. This experiment analyzed the relationship between positive and negative self-talk and physical performance in light of another variable: overt head movements. Participants were randomly assigned to first generate and then listen to either positive or negative self-statements. They were then randomly assigned to nod (up and down) or to shake (side to side) their heads while being exposed to the self-statements they had previously generated. Finally, physical performance was assessed using a vertical-jump task, a squat test, and a deadlift task. As expected, positive self-statements led to better performance than negative self-statements in 2 out of 3 physical tasks. Most relevant, the main effect of self-talk was significantly qualified by head movements. Consistent with the authors’ hypothesis, athletes’ self-statements were significantly more impactful on physical performance in the head-nodding condition than in the head-shaking condition

Horcajo, Higuero, and Briñol are with the Dept. of Social Psychology and Methodology, Autonomous University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain. Paredes is with the IE School of Human Sciences and Technology, Madrid, Spain. Petty is with The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Horcajo (javier.horcajo@uam.es) is corresponding author.
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