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Daniel M. Landers

From 1950 to 1980, the field of sport psychology made significant strides. The developments were so rapid and so profound that this period can be called the “formative” years of the field. There was a tremendous expansion of the sport psychology literature, some of which constituted sustained contributions on a single research topic. Several textbooks and specialty books were published during this time period. Sport psychology journal articles expanded so much that journals devoted entirely to sport psychology research were created. The first graduate programs and research societies that focused more directly on sport psychology were also established. Applied sport psychology techniques, such as relaxation, imagery, and concentration training, were developed and made available to athletes. In addition to providing a description of the above-mentioned developments, some insights into dominant research methodology trends will be presented for the time periods of 1950 to 1965 and from 1966 to 1980.

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Daniel M. Landers

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Daniel M. Landers

It is maintained that a balance among theory testing, applied research, and dissemination, though an ideal goal for sport psychology, is not being achieved because theory testing has not kept pace. To explain the rise and decline of theory testing in sport psychology a historical perspective was used. Whereas sport psychology from 1950-1965 was characterized by empiricism, from 1966-1976 it was characterized by a social analysis approach used to test single theories with novel tasks in a laboratory setting. In contrast to the earlier approaches, it is recommended that contemporary sport psychologists (a) use more meta-analyses to recheck the conclusions of past reviews, (b) become less reliant on a single research method or setting, (c) avoid premature commitments to a theory, and (d) become less enamored with statistically based null hypothesis testing. A number of suggestions are offered and examples provided to encourage, where appropriate, the use of “strong inference,” a more eclectic employment of research methods and settings as well as statistical techniques to determine the strength of observed relationships.

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Deborah L. Feltz and Daniel M. Landers

A longstanding research question in the sport psychology literature has been whether a given amount of mental practice prior to performing a motor skill will enhance one's subsequent performance. The research literature, however, has not provided any clear-cut answers to this question and this has prompted the present, more comprehensive review of existing research using the meta-analytic strategy proposed by Glass (1977). From the 60 studies yielding 146 effect sizes the overall average effect size was .48, which suggests, as did Richardson (1967a), that mentally practicing a motor skill influences performance somewhat better than no practice at all. Effect sizes were also compared on a number of variables thought to moderate the effects of mental practice. Results from these comparisons indicated that studies employing cognitive tasks had larger average effect sizes than motor or strength tasks and that published studies had larger average effect sizes than unpublished studies. These findings are discussed in relation to several existing explanations for mental practice and four theoretical propositions are advanced.

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Brad D. Hatfield and Daniel M. Landers

An area of inquiry that has largely been ignored in scientific studies in the field of sport psychology/motor performance is the subdiscipline of psychology called psychophysiology. This subdiscipline, which is concerned with inferences of psychological processes and emotional states from an examination of physiological measures, is rich in methodological and theoretical insights that could improve research and practice within sport psychology/motor performance. The current methodological and theoretical issues in psychophysiology are first reviewed and then specifically related to recent sport studies that demonstrate their applicability to the enhancement of both theoretical and applied aspects of sport.

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L. Blaine Kyllo and Daniel M. Landers

Although the motivational technique of goal setting has consistently and reliably improved performance in industrial psychology research, this beneficial effect has not been clearly demonstrated in the sport domain. The many proposed explanations for this discrepancy have resulted in a controversy in the literature. However, scientists have overlooked the importance of statistical power. A meta-analytic review of the literature investigating the effects of goal setting on performance in sport and exercise could help to clarify the state of knowledge. The meta-analytic procedures described by Hedges and Olkin (1985) were used to statistically combine 36 studies identified as meeting inclusion criteria. Results indicate that, overall, setting goals improves sport by 0.34 of a standard deviation. Moderate, absolute, and combined short- and long-term goals were associated with the greatest effects. Additional moderator variables were identified, and the extent to which they alter the goal setting–performance relationship is discussed.

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Lynette L. Craft and Daniel M. Landers

The effect of exercise on negative affect has been examined in hundreds of studies. However, the effect of exercise on diagnosed clinical depression has received far less attention. Furthermore, poor methodological techniques predominate and results have been conflicting. A meta-analysis was conducted to investigate the effect of exercise on clinical depression and depression resulting from mental illness. The chosen studies examined the effect of a chronic exercise paradigm (independent variable) on depression (dependent variable). Each study’s variables were coded: design, subjects, exercise, and dependent measure characteristics that could moderate the effect of exercise on depression. Moderator variables were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results from 30 studies showed an overall mean effect of −.72. Therefore, individuals who exercised were −.72 of a standard deviation less depressed than individuals who did not exercise. Moderating variables and implications for the prescription of exercise as an effective treatment for depression are discussed.

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Tracie J. Rogers and Daniel M. Landers

The mediating effect of peripheral narrowing in the negative life event stress (N-LES)/athletic injury relationship was investigated. LES and other psychosocial variables were measured, and peripheral vision was assessed in nonstressful (practice day) and stressful (game day) sport situations. Results showed that total LES, N-LES, and psychological coping skills significantly contributed to the prediction of the occurrence of athletic injury. Additionally, psychological coping skills buffered the N-LES/athletic injury relationship. Peripheral narrowing during stress significantly mediated 8.1% of the N-LES/athletic injury relationship. The findings support the predictions of the model of stress and injury, provide evidence for peripheral narrowing as a mechanism in the LES/athletic injury relationship, and suggest directions for future research examining mediating effects in the model of stress and injury.

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Jennifer L. Etnier and Daniel M. Landers

The primary purpose of this study was to examine differences in performance on fluid and crystallized intelligence tasks as a function of age and fitness. A secondary purpose was to examine the influence of age and fitness on the beneficial effects that practice has on both performance and retention on these tasks. Fitness was assessed in 41 older and 42 younger participants who were then randomly assigned to either experimental or control conditions. Participants performed repeated trials on two cognitive tasks during acquisition and retention, with the experimental group practicing for 100 trials and the control group practicing for 20 trials. Older participants performed better than younger participants on the crystallized intelligence task: however, younger participants performed better than older participants on the fluid intelligence task. On the fluid intelligence task, older fit participants performed better than older unfit participants. Learning did occur on the fluid task and differed as a function of age and fitness. Learning did not occur on the crystallized task.