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psychologist vol 25 no 7

july 2012

What the Olympics mean to me Psychologists from across the discipline give their perspective

Incorporating Psychologist Appointments ÂŁ5 or free to members of The British Psychological Society

letters 482 news 492 careers 542 looking back 554

the psychology of competition 504 neuroscience for the soul 520 interview with Elizabeth Loftus 526 new voices: psychologist suicide 550

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Associate Editors Articles Paul Curran, Harriet Gross, Marc Jones, Rebecca Knibb, Charlie Lewis, Wendy Morgan, Paul Redford, Monica Whitty, Jill Wilkinson, Barry Winter Conferences Alana James History of Psychology Nathalie Chernoff Interviews Vacant Viewpoints Catherine Loveday International panel Vaughan Bell, Uta Frith, Alex Haslam, Elizabeth Loftus

The Psychologist and Digest Policy Committee David Lavallee (Chair), Phil Banyard, Nik Chmiel, Olivia Craig, Helen Galliard, Rowena Hill, Jeremy Horwood, Catherine Loveday, Peter Martin, Victoria Mason, Stephen McGlynn, Tony Wainwright, Peter Wright, and Associate Editors

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psychologist vol 25 no 7

letters 482 voluntary work experience; replication; marathon running and risk; asylums; speaking out at seminars; healthcare informatics; dyslexia; and more news and digest 492 towards personal connectomics; parenting classes; body image; social identity and health; nuggets from the Society’s free Research Digest service; and more media 500 the benefits of Twitter, blogging and podcasting, with Lucy Maddox; plus a review of The Digital Human radio series, and links to more prime online cuts

Faster, higher, stronger! On the eve of the Olympics and Paralympics, Christian Jarrett dives into the psychology of competition What does the Olympics mean to you? We asked the question; psychologists answered



Neuroscience for the soul Craig Aaen-Stockdale searches for the truth in attempts to explain religious experience and behaviour


Interview: The memory warrior Lance Workman meets Elizabeth Loftus


book reviews 530 the learning powered school; effect sizes; anxiety and worry; developing destinies; and more society


the first column from incoming Society President Peter Banister; Northern Ireland Branch conference; consultation responses; and more

july 2012

THE ISSUE By the time you read this, those ‘Olympic countdowns’ will have ticked round to less than one month to go, with the Paralympics following hot on their heels. With the Games on our shores we are told this is a ‘once in a lifetime’ event (although see p.489!), so I trust you will forgive the indulgence of an Olympic flavour spreading throughout the issue, supporting lots of material at Leading the field, our journalist Dr Christian Jarrett takes a look at the psychology of competition. How does it have its effects on performance? Can our discipline shed light on some of the great Olympic rivalries? How will the Games affect us? The chasing pack on p.508 show that the Olympics reaches the parts of the discipline other sporting events cannot, as a broad range of psychologists explain ‘what the Olympics means to me’. Also in contention are Olympic-related pieces in ‘Big picture’, ‘Looking back’ and ‘One on one’. This month also sees another landmark event: the first column from incoming Society President Dr Peter Banister. See p.534 for more. Dr Jon Sutton

542 careers and psychologist appointments we meet Nancy Doyle and Maria Kordowicz to hear about setting up and running their own businesses; featured job; how to advertise; latest vacancies new voices 550 psychologist suicide: practising what we preach: Patrick Larsson with the latest in our series for budding writers looking back


what contribution have sport psychology and the Olympics made to mainstream psychology? Tadhg MacIntyre explains one on one


…with Dan Gould

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‘If I let go of everything – my thoughts, my words, my feelings, my fears, everything – my body can do anything and my mind becomes completely and utterly still.’ The words of real athletes have been used in a new art installation video, ‘The Zone’, a collaboration between the artist and filmmaker David Bickerstaff and Dr Victoria Stills from a video collaboration between David Bickerstaff and Tischler, a chartered psychologist and lecturer Victoria Tischler. E-mail ‘Big picture’ ideas to at the University of Nottingham. The video is based on research data The film premiered at the Society’s Annual Conference, involving the universities of Nottingham, Bath and Exeter following sponsorship from the Qualitative Methods in examining how athletes achieve absolute focus. ‘We’re Psychology Section. Watch it at exploring the poetics of athletic experience,’ Tischler says.

Athletes in ‘the zone’


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Perfectionists worry away their holiday Go on, have a few days off. Take a week – you’ve certainly earned it! Clear your mind, take a break – things will tick over until you return... Easier said than done, of course. But respites from work are valuable, replenishing resources and preventing negative loads (mental fatigue, adrenaline build-up) spiralling out of control. Sadly, the positive gloss of the holiday itself tends to slip quickly when we return to work. What makes you more likely to fall prey to the ‘fade-out’? The quest for perfection, new research suggests. Researcher Paul Flaxman and colleagues canvassed academics before, during and on two occasions after an Easter break, measuring changes in wellbeing. The 77 participants also completed a tool that measures self-critical perfectionism; this form of perfectionism centres around high standards and doubting your actions are sufficient to reach them. As this attribute is triggered by achievement-related stressors, such as deadlines or presentations, the researchers suspected the holiday itself would likely be a genuine respite for all, but that those high in this attribute could quickly crash once they returned to work. Pre-holiday, perfectionists were worse off in terms of well-being: more exhausted, anxious and fatigued than their colleagues. During the holiday, their wellbeing rose and fell in line with colleagues. Yet, at return to work, they quickly reported higher exhaustion, giving way to higher anxiety a few weeks later, with consistently higher fatigue across both time points. The finding accounted for differences in In the Journal of Applied Psychology respite well-being, length of respite, and how much participants worked during the respite. What’s driving this? Participants reported on holiday cognitions, and it turns out that time spent ruminating about the correctness of past judgements and repeatedly worrying about future events led to more emotional exhaustion and anxiety on return to work. The effect that perfectionism has on the various well-being measures was partly due to the mediating influence of these ‘perseverative cognitions’, which explained at least a quarter and in one case (fatigue) two thirds of the effect. Why didn’t these thoughts drag holiday well-being down, too? Flaxman’s group conjecture that these cognitions are functional in the short-term, staving off uncomfortable feelings (‘I should be doing something!’) by rehearsing intentions in your head. However, by preventing psychological detachment from work, this strategy forgoes any chance to shake things off and lighten the load. If you feel that the world might collapse if you took the invitation at the top of this piece, you might want to explore holiday activities that are extremely absorbing and take you well away from the work mentality; previous research suggests you might also want to switch off your work mobile. The researchers also note that interventions such as CBT and mindfulness-based training may be effective in cushioning perfectionist beliefs from harming quality of life.

I This post is taken from the Society’s Occupational Digest, written by Dr Alex Fradera. See and follow on Twitter @occdigest


Introducing ‘therapy genetics’ In the May issue of Translational Psychiatry There’s a thriving research field – pharmacogenetics – looking at whether a person’s genetic profile can predict their chances of responding to drug treatment. Can the same approach be applied to therapy? In one of the first papers published on ‘therapy genetics’, Kathryn Lester and her Institute of Psychiatry colleagues, including Thalia Eley, took swabs from hundreds of white children with anxiety, aged 6 to 13. The researchers were specifically interested in the genes the children had that code for Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain DerivedNeurotrophic Factor (BDNF) – proteins involved in the survival and development of neurons. The children, some based in the UK and some in Australia, then underwent a CBT programme designed for helping anxious children. There were no genetic associations with the children’s immediate response to the treatment. However, at follow up (assessed at 3, 6 or 12 months), the children’s particular NGF genotype was related to their therapeutic responsiveness. We each have two copies of the NGF gene, rs6330, which can come in two versions, known as the T allele or the C allele. Lester and her team found that among children with two copies of the T allele version, 76.7 per cent were free of their primary anxiety diagnosis at follow-up, compared with 63.5 per cent of children with one C version and

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one T version, and just 53.2 per cent of children with two copies of the C allele. These associations held, even after controlling for other clinically relevant factors such as age, gender and geographical location. Lester and her colleagues argued that the finding makes sense based on what we already know about NGF being involved in the growth of new neurons and in changing connections between existing neurons – known as ‘neuroplastic changes’ in the scientific jargon. The authors wrote: ‘Significant learning experiences of the kind undertaken during CBT may very well be underpinned by neuroplastic modifications in brain activity and function.’ This new result follows a recent paper from the same research group, finding that anxious children responded more successfully to CBT if they had a particular version of a gene involved in the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin. However, Lester and her team caution that ‘clinically significant prediction by genetic markers is likely to be best achieved by combining multiple genetic markers (perhaps in combination with clinical predictors) into predictive indices or algorithms.’ Without a no-treatment control group of anxious children, it’s also not possible to say for sure that NGF genotype is specifically associated with therapeutic responsiveness rather than an advantageous tendency to recover regardless of treatment. ‘These findings should be considered preliminary,’ the researchers said.

Total recall: The man who can remember every day In Neurocase For most of us, it’s tricky enough to remember what we were doing this time last week, let alone on some random day years ago. But for a blind 20year-old man referred to by researchers as HK, every day of his life since the age of about 11 is recorded in his memory in detail. HK has ‘hyperthymesia’ and his is only the second case ever documented in the scientific literature (the first, a woman known as AJ, was reported in 2006). Brandon Ally and his team have completed comprehensive tests with HK and they’ve scanned his brain and compared its structure with 30 agematched controls. They found that HK has normal intelligence, that he performs normally on standard desktop tests of shortand long-term recall, and that he has normal verbal learning skills. It’s specifically his autobiographical memory that’s phenomenal. The researchers assessed HK’s autobiographical memory by choosing four dates from each year of his life since his first memory (that was from 1993 when he was aged three and half). For each of these dates, they gathered at least three facts from HK’s family, medical records and the historical records for his neighbourhood in Nashville. HK was then interviewed about each of these 80 dates. His answers, often detailed, were transcribed and fact-checked. HK’s recollection of days from his life between the ages of 9 and 12 grew dramatically more accurate and detailed,

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reaching nearly 90 per cent accuracy for memories at age 11, rising to near perfect accuracy thereafter. HK told the researchers that his autobiographical memories are rich in sensory and emotional details and feel just as vivid regardless of whether they’re from years ago or from yesterday. Ninety per cent of the time he experiences these memories in the first-person, compared with rates of approximately 66 per cent in the general population. HK said that most days he wakes up thinking about what he’s done on that day in previous years. Bad memories come to mind just as often as positive ones, but he chooses to focus on the positive. In terms of brain structure, overall HK’s brain was smaller than average (likely related to his having been born prematurely at 27 weeks). By contrast, his right amygdala was larger, by about 20 per cent, than in the controls. He also has

enhanced functional connectivity between his right amygdala and hippocampus and in other regions. As the amygdala is involved in emotional processing, the researchers think this could lend a deeper personal salience to his experiences than is normal, thus making them more memorable. Ally and his team acknowledged that unique case are not easily generalisable to the normal population, but they argued their results provide further evidence for the role of the amygdala in autobiographical memory. ‘Further, perhaps the present findings can help guide future regions of brain stimulation in memory-disordered populations, with the goal of improving memory function,’ they speculated. ‘Indeed, brain stimulation to deep, subcortical memory-related structures has shown very early promise in patients with Alzheimer’s.’

The material in this section is taken from the Society’s Research Digest blog at, and is written by its editor Dr Christian Jarrett. Visit the blog for full coverage including references and links, additional current reports, an archive, comment and more. Subscribe by RSS or e-mail at Become a fan at Follow the Digest editor at



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too: ‘The peer-review process can continue to play… and it can be especially insightful to attract the views of psychologists who aren’t in one’s own subfield.’ The only downside for Christian was time: ‘Blogging and social networking can be rather addictive and time-consuming. If you’re going to start devoting time to Lucy Maddox on the benefits of tweeting, blogging and podcasting these activities, you have to be realistic and recognise that that time is going to be taken away from something you do now. rint media is one way to communicate So, what are you going to do less of, if your breakfast without realising that this psychological ideas, but increasingly you’re planning to start blogging and is a public interface. psychologists are using internet-based tweeting regularly?’ Good tweets tend to hook you into a media to reach a wider audience. What I asked Christian for his view on what story, and give you a personal perspective, are the pros and cons for psychologists makes a good blog. not just a dry bit of of using Twitter, blogging and podcasting ‘People will always information. They to share their ideas? And what top tips enjoy great writing, have to be snappy are there? I did some sniffing around to being entertained and and still contain find out. informed. But you some interesting I started with Twitter. I have only don’t have to be a and relevant posted one tweet, which I believe makes brilliant writer to content. The best me a ‘Twitter lurker’. Twitter lets you produce a brilliant psychologists on write short (140 characters) ‘bursts of blog. You can use Twitter pick up information’ and post them instantly for your expertise and interesting ideas people to read. In turn you can read the experience as a and research and ‘tweets’ of others (including @psychmag psychologist to offer present a gobbet of and @researchdigest), choosing who you readers a distinctive it to hook you in, ‘follow’ in your ‘twitter feed’. take on a topic, be e.g. Richard If nothing else, tweeting hones your that a new piece of Wiseman, Vaughan ability to get right to the nub of whatever research, a dilemma Bell, Sophie Scott. research or story you are tweeting about. or conundrum you’re Psychology stories It also provides another platform to get facing at work, a also pop up in your ideas out there and noticed. You tweets from general Tweeting hones your ability to get right political controversy to the nub of a story never know who might be following you. that’s in the news, or publications, e.g. This is may be the downside too: it seems whatever else you New Scientist. For easy to get lulled into tweeting about feel like writing about.’ tweeting psychologists, see the BPS Christian’s advice for any would-be Research Digest list at bloggers is to ‘start reading other people’s blogs to get ideas and then dive in. You’ll I also turned to the Research Digest to soon find your own style and approach. ask its very own prize-winning journalist, Anyone can set up a blog for free via Dr Christian Jarrett, for his views on Blogger or Wordpress or many other blogging. Blogs are internet-based public Philip Zimbardo spoke at TED about ‘the platforms.’ One of Christian’s favourite journals, usually with links to other sites. demise of guys’. Science writer Carl blogs is from Oxford psychologist Blogging can be spun to reflect whichever Zimmer was not impressed. Professor Dorothy Bishop (see field you are working in. Christian, which explained: ‘Blogging allows psychologists Psychologist @garymarcus says it’s never he described as ‘a great example of a to connect with interested readers outside too late to learn a musical instrument psychologist using their expertise and of the psychological community, helping experience to inform, entertain and share to correct misconceptions about what Charles S. Myers and shell-shock opinions’. exactly psychology is and what Often an audio extension of blogging, psychologists do. It can also give The dangers of British journalists ‘having podcasting is a series of audio files psychologists a fresh perspective on their a laugh’ with science available on the web to be downloaded work, which might provide a creative What can we do about student e-mails? and listened to, like your own mini-radio spark. In turn, feedback from readers can series. Podcasts give you the freedom to inform psychologists, alerting them to the Genius networks listen to them whenever you like and they wider public’s concerns and passions and feel like someone is talking just to you. beliefs.’ Psychologists can read your blog There are some excellent psychology podcasts, including The Digital Human from BBC Radio 4 (see opposite). The page coordinating editor, promoting and discussing The Media page is Institute of Psychiatry regularly podcasts Ceri Parsons (Chair, Media psychology in the media. If coordinated by the Society’s its Maudsley debates, so even if you can’t you would like to contribute, and Press Committee), on Media and Press attend you can hear the psychological please contact the ‘Media’ Committee, with the aim of bunfights. A particularly juicy example of

Juicy morsels to be shared





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this was the recent debate on CBT versus psychoanalysis (reviewed in the April issue), featuring Paul Salkovskis and Peter Fonagy ( Psychology comes into non-psychology specific podcasts too, e.g. the engaging Radiolab ( For more podcasts see – another list curated by the Society’s Research Digest. Richard Scrase is an online producer who works at Understanding Animal Research and regularly runs courses to help scientists engage with the media using podcasting. I went to a course he ran recently and can recommend it (contact him at I asked Richard about his views on podcasting for psychologists. ‘I can see several benefits’, he said. ‘Firstly, it’s like an audio-visual CV, if you like… sometimes when broadcast media are looking to find a suitable person they want to see and/or hear a person first. Secondly, if you need to do some teaching or training or both, sometimes the discipline associated with making an audioslide presentation is quite good for ordering your thoughts. And thirdly, the process of using your ears to think can make you creative in a different way. It can be refreshing… get you out of a rut.’ However, Richard cautioned that ‘It’s not some kind of magic bullet. To do a decent job is time-consuming.’ Richard recommended tailoring your presentation to the information you are presenting, not trying to present complex data without some visual cues for example. His top tips were: ‘Don’t be put off just because you haven’t got the best gear or you haven’t done it before. Have a go. Get your recording device close to the person’s mouth. Wear headphones so you can hear what the recorder is hearing.’ Richard also recommended using interviews: ‘Interviews work well, not one person droning on.’ Ultimately, as with print, content counts. Irrelevant tweets or speechifying podcast monologues do not enrich your audience’s psychological understanding, or expand your own ideas. If you do it well though, internet-based media can give you access to a wider population of people, and the relationship can be mutually beneficial. Creating a good regular blog or podcast takes more time than putting pen to paper. But keeping up to date with other psychologists’ research is less time-consuming, and nearly invaluable as a ready resource of interesting ideas to nurture your knowledge. Whether you are a voyeur or an active participant, there are juicy morsels to be shared.

The Digital Human hen a British newspaper picked up W on the Twitter stream of Dr Aleks Krotoski, social psychologist and

producing a radio series/podcast. The way Krotoski blended examples from her own life, allowing her personality to come technology journalist, they described it through without it overshadowing the as ‘disjointed’. Krotoski began to receive topic; the breadth of interviewees; even concerned messages from followers asking the choice of background music (from if she was OK, and she realised that there producer Victoria MacArthur). was a danger of too much self-expression Perhaps most impressive to me was in her digital world. Who has control of the way the series dealt with debate and who we are, when we go online? What nuance. This can be phenomenally are the psychological implications of the difficult in science communication, and urge many now have to capture every we are often told that the audience want image, experience and feeling for online certainty not caveats. Applied to the eternity? More broadly, how has the digital world, this series could have internet changed our lives? And just as become a victim of ‘Greenfieldism’, importantly, how has our stoking fears that the essential being remained internet is ‘rewiring our untouched by the dizzying brains’. Not a bit of it: technological advances? time and time again, In a series on BBC Radio 4, grandiose statements The Digital Human, Krotoski and predictions were tackled these questions and balanced by more dozens more in a way that was prosaic views. This far from ‘disjointed’. In fact, this likely reflects Krotoski’s was a tour de force in writing, own, evidence-based production and presenting. approach: ‘It was the The first episode, ‘Capture’, same with the telegraph, Aleks Krotoski asked what the deluge of images the telephone, the printing from digital photography means press, the automobile, the for our memory when every second can television – people always throw up their be recorded, edited and posted online for hands and say “Oh my God”, but really posterity. The psychological content was what these things are doing is expressing to the fore: the first example of ‘homo who we are at a certain point in time.’ digitas’ Krotoski met was Dr Charles Series producer Peter McManus was Fernyhough (University of Durham), quoted in The Telegraph as saying ‘We who talked about using the SenseCam want to go beyond either moral panic or with his son to see the world from his wide-eyed, fanboy admiration. It’s time for point of view and discover whether the something more mature.’ device is an effective cue to memory. Job done. I’m not easily impressed, In the second episode, ‘Control’, we but this was radio – and inter-disciplinary heard from psychologist Professor Sherry psychology – at its very best. Listen at Turkle (MIT) about the ‘multiplication of and selves’ that is now possible online, and the keep your ears open for a second series ‘continual need for performance’ this can later in the year. JS bring. ‘Conceal’ featured a great section with Anja Steinbauer (London School of Philosophy) on Jeremy Bentham’s ‘panopticon’ as it applies to the internet. Other episodes kept up the high standard. ‘Conviction’ dealt with technology as a The trouble with brain scans, by ‘force multiplier for religions’; ‘Crush’, @vaughanbell explored love online, featuring Dr Qazi Psychiatrist who championed ‘gay cure’ Rahman (Queen Mary, University of confesses London); ‘Crowded’ talked with Professor Bruce Hood speaks Steve Reicher (University of St Andrews) Profile of Daryl Bem about the power of the crowd; and the Professor Geoff Beattie on running, adultery final episode, ‘Chance’, about and family serendipitous encounters. How does literature influence scientific To me, the series was a masterclass in thought and practice? so many tricky aspects of communicating psychology and science in general, and

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Faster, higher, stronger! On the eve of the Olympics and Paralympics, Christian Jarrett dives into the psychology of competition


egends will be born and dreams will die this summer as London becomes a crucible for the ultimate sporting competition. The pressure will be intense. How will the athletes cope? Will the heat of competition lift our sporting heroes to new heights or will it stifle their promise?

New heights

references 504

Bernhardt, P.C., Dabbs Jr, J.M., Fielden, J.A. & Lutter, C.D. (1998). Testosterone changes during vicarious experiences of winning and losing among fans at sporting events. Physiology and Behaviour, 65, 59–62. Chan, J. & Lam, S. (2008). Effects of competition on students' self-efficacy in vicarious learning. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 95–108. Cook, C.J. & Crewther, B.T. (2012).

Racing hearts Why does competition have these beneficial effects on performance? Some of it boils down to sheer physiology, as we invest extra energy into beating our opponents. In their hand-grip study, for example, Cooke’s team showed how the

Changes in salivary testosterone concentrations and subsequent voluntary squat performance following the presentation of short video clips. Hormones and Behaviour, 61, 17–22. Cooke, A., Kavussanu, M., McIntyre, D. & Ring, C. (2010). Psychological, muscular and kinematic factors mediate performance under pressure. Psychophysiology, 1109–1118. Cooke, A., Kavussanu, M., McIntyre, D. &


Investigations into the beneficial effects of competition are as old as psychology itself. In a classic 1898 paper, Norman Triplett of Indiana University observed from race data that cyclists recorded faster times when competing against others than alone against the clock. He then confirmed this competitive benefit experimentally using an adapted fishing reel – a test widely regarded as the first ever study in social psychology. Forty boys and girls reeled round a flag on a silk cord as fast as they could and Triplett noted that most of them performed better when they competed against another participant, as opposed to when they were alone. Although a 2005 statistical analysis of his results in fact found no effects of competition, Triplett’s study heralded more than a century of research into what became known as the ‘social facilitation’ effect of performing with others. Modern examples of the benefits of competition are easy to find. Consider a 2003 weight-lifting study by Matthew Rhea and his colleagues at Arizona State University. Given one

chance to lift the maximum weight possible in front of an audience, both male and female amateurs bench-pressed more, by an average of 2kg, when competing against another person than when lifting by themselves. Or take a lab study of endurance published just last year by Andrew Cooke and his team at the University of Birmingham. They reported that male and female participants sustained a tight hand-grip for 21 seconds longer (a 22 per cent increase) when competing against six others simultaneously, compared with when completing the challenge on their own.

competitive condition was associated with increased heart rate, decreased heart rate variability (considered a marker of increased effort) and increased muscle activity, as compared with performing alone. Crucially, the change in heart rate variability partly mediated the improved performance observed in the competitive condition. Similar observations were reported by the same lab in 2001, even though the challenge didn’t require physical exertion. Led by Lesley Harrison, this experiment involved 36 participants playing the Scalextric toy car racing game, either competitively, cooperatively (avoiding collisions), or alone. The competitive condition was associated with higher blood pressure and heart rate than the other conditions, as well as a shortening of the cardiac pre-ejection period (a sign of increased adrenaline). Competition also affects the hormones, especially testosterone. In 1999, Ferran Suay and her colleagues at Universidad de Valencia studied judoists before, during, and after a competitive bout compared with during a noncompetitive exercise session involving the same amount of physical exertion. The competitive context was associated with higher testosterone and cortisol levels prior to and during the bouts, relative to the non-competitive context. Unsurprisingly, competition outcomes also make a difference. After the bouts in Suay’s 1999 study, winners had higher cortisol levels than losers. Many other studies have documented higher testosterone levels in winners and drops in testosterone in losers (especially in men). Suay’s research group, including co-worker Alicia Salvador, have also found correlations between pre-bout testosterone levels and the frequency and duration of threats and attacking moves shown by a judoist during the ensuing bout – behaviours the researchers said were a sign of

Ring, C. (2011). Effects of competition on endurance performance and the underlying psychological and physiological mechanisms. Biological Psychology, 86, 370–378. Eisenberg, J. & Thompson, W.F. (2011). The effects of competition on improvisers’ motivation, stress, and creative performance. Creativity Research Journal, 23, 129–136. Eysenck, M.W. & Calvo, M.G. (1992).

Anxiety and performance: The processing efficiency theory. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 409–434. Garcia, S.M. & Tor, A. (2009). The n-effect. Psychological Science, 20, 871–877. Gucciardi, D.F. & Dimmock, J.A. (2008). Choking under pressure in sensorimotor skills. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9, 45–59. Harrison, L.K., Denning, S., Easton, H.L., et al. (2001). The effects of competition

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dogged persistence. Interest has turned lately to drug-free ways to boost athletes’ testosterone levels before they compete, with the hope of adding some bite to their performance. For example, a study published this January involved professional rugby players watching sad, erotic, aggressive, training or humorous video clips (featuring starving children, exotic dancing, big rugby hits, a fighter training or a sitcom, respectively) before attempting to lift the maximum weight possible in a free-weight challenge. Christian Cook and Blair Crewther at Imperial College reported that the men lifted heavier weights after the erotic, aggressive and training clips and that these same videos were associated with increases in testosterone.

How will the Olympics affect you? It’s not just the participating athletes who will be affected in body and mind by this summer’s Olympics. By identifying strongly with their nation’s sporting heroes, fans too will be changed. Consider a 1992 study by Edward Hirt at Indiana University and his colleagues, in which dozens of students watched their university basketball team either win or lose. Among those students who were keen fans, witnessing a win boosted their mood and self-esteem; it also affected their confidence in the team’s future performance, and in their own personal abilities. Witnessing a loss had the opposite, adverse effect. A study published this year suggests, thankfully, that the positive emotional effects of enjoying a win may be longer-lived than the negative effects of seeing your team lose. Marc Jones at Staffordshire University found that, four days after a World Cup game, English fans were no longer negatively affected by seeing their team lose; the Spanish, by contrast, were still enjoying the fillip from seeing their team win. These influences are likely to be mediated by physiological mechanisms that mirror what’s happening in the bodies of the participating athletes. Paul Bernhardt at the University of Utah and his co-workers measured the testosterone levels of basketball fans after they’d watched their favourite team win or lose, and of football fans after they’d seen their country win or lose in the World Cup. Just as if they’d won or lost themselves, the fans exhibited testosterone increases or drops, respectively. Fans respond to these benefits and costs by engaging in what psychologists call BIRGing (basking in reflected glory) and CORFing (cutting off reflected failure). For instance, it’s been shown after a win that fans are more likely to talk about their team in the first person plural – as in ‘we did a great job’ – and to wear the colours of their team or country. Will you still wear your new GB apparel if the medals remain elusive? Watching the Olympics could also play tricks with your memory. There’s evidence that negative sporting events are remembered in more detail and more consistently than positive outcomes. Elizabeth Kensinger at Boston College and Daniel Schacter at Harvard made this finding after testing the memory of Red Sox and Yankees fans and neutrals days after the New York Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League play-off series.

It’s the taking part What about the mental processes underlying the performance benefits of competition? Perhaps a clue comes from the father of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, who said: ‘The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.’ Extending this idea, some intriguing new studies show the importance not just of fighting well, but of taking pleasure in it. In fact, enjoying the competition could make it more likely that you’ll win. Peter Totterdell at the University of

and competitiveness on cardiovascular activity. Psychophysiology, 38, 601–606. Hirt, E.R., Zillmann, D., Erickson, G.A. & Kennedy, C. (1992). Costs and benefits of allegiance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 724–738. Jones, M.V., Coffee, P., Sheffield, D. et al. (2012). Just a game? Changes in English and Spanish soccer fans’ emotions in the 2010 World Cup.

Sheffield equipped professional county cricketers with pocket computers and had them rate their moods during a three- or four-day match. They entered the data before and after each day’s play, as well as at lunch and during tea breaks. Totterdell found links between players’ mood and performance (measured subjectively and objectively), such that players who reported feeling happy, focused, energetic, enthusiastic and confident tended to go on to play better (of course, it is possible that some third factor influenced both mood and performance, so caution is

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 162–169. Jones, M. Meijen, C., McCarthy, P.J. & Sheffield, D. (2009). A theory of challenge and threat states in athletes. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2, 161–180. Kensinger, E.A. & Schacter, D.L. (2006). When the Red Sox shocked the Yankees: Comparing negative and

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needed in interpreting these results). In a follow-up study, Totterdell looked at links between a team’s average mood and the moods of individual players. This appeared to show that, independent of match events, players could be infected by the mood of their team, being particularly likely to catch positive moods. There were also links between average team mood and a player’s performance, via the effect of the team’s mood on that player’s own mood. Older and more committed players were the most sensitive to these mood contagion

positive memories. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 13, 757–763. Kilduff, G.J., Elfenbein, H.A. & Staw, B.M. (2010). The psychology of rivalry. Academy of Management Journal, 53, 943–969. Lam, L.W. (in press). Impact of competitiveness on salespeople's commitment and performance. Journal of Business Research. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2011.10.026.

Longmore, A. (2009, 9 August). Jessica Ennis: The golden shot. Sunday Times, p.19. Neave, N. & Wolfson, S. (2003). Testosterone, territoriality, and the ‘home advantage’. Physiology and Behaviour, 78, 269–275. Rhea, M.R., Landers, D.M., Alvar, B.A. & Arent, S.M. (2003). The effects of competition and the presence of an audience on weight lifting


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performance. Journal of Strength Conditioning Research, 17, 303–306. Salvador, A., Suay, F., Martinez-Sanchis, S., et al (1999). Correlating testosterone and fighting in male participants in judo contests. Physiology and Behaviour, 68, 205–209. Senior, K. & Brophy, J. (1973). Praise and group competition as motivating


enjoyment where athletes are completely in the zone, immersed in an activity, with nothing to distract them, cause them anxiety, or lead them to doubt themselves. The confluence of these factors helps promote both enjoyment and optimal performance.’

Rivals Of course, athletes often aren’t just competing against anonymous opponents, they’re battling against rivals with whom they have a chequered, personal history. From Coe and Ovett, through Nadal and Federer, to Usain Bolt versus his younger compatriot and training mate Yohan Blake in London this summer, these rivalries are entertaining for fans, and it seems likely that when things get personal this is another factor that drives athletes to train longer and fight harder. Rivalry is a specific aspect of competition that psychologists have only just started to study. Leading the field in


effects. Based on his findings, Totterdell recommended that ‘Coaches and players should…consider incorporating the development of mood control skills within players’ training schedules,’ and that ‘team managers and coaches should clearly give consideration to the mood profile of their team’. Another demonstration of the performance benefits of enjoyment came from a US study of school basketball players. John Tauer at the University of St Thomas and Judith Harackiewicz at the University of Wisconsin-Madison observed hundreds of young boys and girls taking free throws at a basketball hoop. The boys either performed cooperatively with a partner, trying to achieve as many baskets as possible between them; or they performed alone against a partner, trying to score more baskets than him/her; or they performed cooperatively with a partner against another pair. The children enjoyed the last context, mixing cooperation and competition, the most, and they also performed best under those rules. What’s more, greater enjoyment was found to mediate their superior performance. Why should greater enjoyment lead to better performance? ‘When we enjoy what we are doing, we are more likely to get absorbed by the activity, focus our attention on it, be less likely to be distracted, and more likely to be in a flow state,’ says Tauer. ‘All of this leads to elevated performance. We also know that the better one performs, the more one tends to enjoy an activity, so enjoyment can lead to better performance can lead to more enjoyment, and so on.’ Tauer, who as well as being a psychologist is also head basketball coach at his university, says there’s no doubt that athletes who enjoy what they are doing will be more motivated and engaged in practice sessions and this will lead to improvement and better performance. ‘This enjoyment is not the giggling, notvery-serious type of fun we might think about,’ he says, ‘rather, it is a focused

Coe and Ovett on the podium in Moscow

this respect is Gavin Kilduff at New York University’s Stern School of Business. ‘Rivalry is a subjective competitive relationship characterised by heightened psychological involvement and stakes

incentives for children. Psychological Reports, 32, 951–958. Smith, N.C., Bellamy, M., Collins, D.J. & Newell, D. (2001). A test of processing efficiency theory in team sport. Journal of Sports Sciences, 19, 321–332. Strube, M.J. (2005). What did Triplett really find? American Journal of Psychology, 118, 271–286. Suay, F., Salvador, A., González-Bono, E.,

independent of the objective or tangible stakes of competition,’ he says. ‘In other words, rivals are motivated to outperform each other not just because of what is at stake in the competition, but also because of their history with one another and the implications that future competitions between them have for this broader competitive relationship.’ In a 2010 study of university basketball teams, Kilduff identified the factors that appear to foster an intense rivalry between teams, including geographical proximity, similarity in status and a competitive history. Regarding the last of these, more frequent and more hotly contested prior clashes predicted greater feelings of rivalry. What kind of an effect does rivalry have on performance? Kilduff’s basketball study suggested that players exhibited greater effort (in terms of greater defensive efficiency and blocked shots) when up against teams with whom they shared greater rivalry. In a separate and as yet unpublished study, Kilduff also looked at the effect of rivalry on the performance of runners. Using several years of race data from a running club in northeast USA, he found that runners recorded faster times when a rival was present in the starting line-up (rivals were identified by their similarity, in terms of age and gender, and based on a history of close contests). In performance terms, this boost was reflected in an average five seconds per kilometre increase in speed. It’s possible these performance benefits are mediated in part by hormonal changes – a 2003 study of junior Premiership footballers by UK researchers found that the players’ testosterone levels were higher in anticipation of a match against a team considered to be an extreme rival. The negative flipside of the performance-enhancing effects of rivalry could be something called the n-effect. The term was introduced by Stephen Garcia at the University of Michigan and Avishalom Tor at the University of Haifa in a 2009 study, in which they

et al. (1999). Effects of competition and its outcome on serum testosterone, cortisol and prolactin. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 24, 551–566. Tauer, J.M. & Harackiewicz, J.M. (2004). The effects of cooperation and competition on intrinsic motivation and performance. Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes, 86, 849–861.

Totterdell, P. (1999). Mood scores: Mood performance in professional cricketers. British Journal of Psychology, 90, 317–332. Totterdell, P. (2000). Catching moods and hitting runs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 848–859. Triplett, N. (1898). The dynamogenic factors in pace making and competition. American Journal of Psychology, 9, 507–533.

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documented the way people’s performance on exams and quizzes suffered when there were more competitors. The researchers concluded that the n-effect occurs because when the competitive field is more populated people are less prone to compare their performance against others. ‘As the number of competitors increases, the forces underlying social-comparison processes typically diminish,’ they wrote, ‘making social comparison less important and dampening competitive motivation.’

Choking So far we’ve seen the manifold ways that competition can marshal motivation, channel adrenaline and raise performance. But what about those athletes who collapse under the pressure? It can happen to the greatest. In one particularly infamous example, golfing legend Greg Norman took a six-shot lead into the final round of the 1996 Masters Tournament, only to suffer a complete meltdown. Numerous theories have been proposed to explain the potential adverse effects of competition. Michael Eysenck and Manuel Calvo in the 1990s suggested that the stress of competition has a dual effect – it generates anxiety, which distracts from the task, but it also provokes extra effort. When choking occurs, this is because the distracting effects on the central executive outweigh the benefit of increased effort. A study of volleyball players by Nickolas Smith at MMU and his co-workers in 2001 provided some support. At critical points in the game, low trait-anxiety players benefited from their increased effort but high trait-anxiety players didn’t, presumably because of the distracting effects of anxiety. Other labs have explored the adverse physiological effects of competitive pressure. Andrew Cooke and his collaborators observed female golfers in high- and low-pressure situations on the putting green. High pressure increased heart rate and increased the muscular activity in the women’s forearms, probably caused by a tighter grip on the club. In turn, this led them to swing the club with greater acceleration, which had a detrimental effect on accuracy. Another popular theory is that pressure can cause experts like Greg Norman to regress, in the sense that they start thinking too much about highly skilled movements that had become automated. Support for this ‘reinvestment theory’ comes from studies like the one published by Daniel Gucciardi and James Dimmock at The University of Western

Australia in 2008. They challenged experienced Australian golfers under high- or low-pressure putting conditions. Additionally, they instructed the golfers to focus on certain words as they performed – in one condition, the words were designed to cause them to think about the components of their technique (e.g. ‘arms’, ‘weight’, ‘head’); in another condition the words were irrelevant (e.g. colours); and in a final condition the golfers focused on just one word that was designed to provoke a holistic approach to technique (e.g. ‘smooth’). Under highpressure situations (but not lowpressure), the golfers who were focused on components of their technique suffered a loss in performance, suggesting they were thinking too much about the minutiae of their technique. The best performances were by the golfers who focused on a word like ‘smooth’. Is there anything that athletes can do

to ensure they respond to pressure in a beneficial way? According to the ‘theory of challenge and threat states in athletes’ proposed by Marc Jones at Staffordshire University and his colleagues, the effects of competitive pressure depend on whether an athlete’s judgement of their skills and resources leads them to construe the situation as a threat, or as a challenge and a chance to shine. ‘To cultivate a challenge mindset for the Olympics,’ says Jones, ‘athletes should enhance their confidence, remind themselves of what they can control and keep a focus on achieving success rather than dwelling on avoiding failure.’ Or, as the psychology graduate and heptathlete Jessica Ennis put it in a 2009 interview: ‘You have to conquer your own nerves, run your own race, do your own competition.’

I Dr Christian Jarrett is The Psychologist’s staff journalist.

Lessons beyond the world of sport The psychological relevance of competition extends beyond the world of sport. Think of schools, where teachers may deliberately instil a competitive culture as a means of improving achievement. Research in the 1970s suggested doing so improves pupil performance on boring tasks (e.g. see Senior & Brophy, 1973). But other studies have highlighted motivational costs and other drawbacks of a competitive classroom setting. A Hong Kong study published in 2008, for instance, found that creative writing pupils in a competitive situation suffered a loss of self-efficacy (belief in their own ability) while pupils in a non-competitive context did not. There have always been artistic rivalries, but thanks to the rise of TV shows like The XFactor, competition is also becoming a more overt part of creative success. This may not be such a bad thing. In research published last year, the performance of keyboard players who improvised under competitive conditions after listening to a snippet of Prokofiev was rated as more creative (though not technically superior) compared with those who improvised in a non-competitive context. Participants performing competitively also reported more intrinsic motivation; however, this came with a dose of extra stress. Competition is also an essential part of many people’s working lives as they attempt to climb the greasy pole of success. The appropriateness of a competitive attitude will obviously vary with the working context. Long Lam at the University of Macau found that sales staff at an international insurance firm who were more competitive (they agreed with statements like ‘It is important for me to perform better than others’) tended to also engage in more so-called ‘discretionary behaviours’, going the extra mile in the pursuit of their duties. A follow-up study in the retail sector found that highly competitive staff reported greater emotional commitment to their company when they perceived there to be a competitive culture. On the negative side, unpublished research by Gavin Kilduff and his colleagues suggests that rivalry can encourage unethical behaviour, including the false reporting of achievements. Kilduff is also examining the strategic decision making of corporate executives, with the hypothesis that rivalry can lead to a preoccupation with one’s longstanding rivals that may limit consideration of other competitive threats. This ‘tunnel vision’ idea chimes with the experience of psychologists who are taking lessons from sports psychology and applying them to business and vice versa. The Lane4 consultancy was co-founded by the Olympic gold-medallist swimmer Adrian Moorhouse, together with sport psychologist Graham Jones. The company’s Europe Practice Director Dominic Mahony (a former Olympian and the current Pentathlon GB team leader) has highlighted ‘Beating the Brits syndrome’ – the tendency for athletes and business people to be preoccupied by internal rivalries rather than focusing on the external competition.

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What does the Olympics mean to you? We asked the question; psychologists answered

Inclusion for learning disability I’ve always loved sports, being a keen player and spectator. Yet I would not have predicted several years ago, how the words ‘Olympics’ and ‘Paralympics’ would come to impact upon my life. I’ve always held a firm belief about the connectivity between physical activity and psychological health, but the connection between my working life, sport, disability and psychology was advanced further than I could have imagined when I suddenly found myself involved in the Paralympics. It all began with a speculative e-mail sent some time

ago to a tenuously linked contact in Canada. Three years later I find myself involved in a multidisciplinary, international research group that has completed the first stages of an extremely ambitious research schedule. The resulting data from this group contributed to the International Paralympic Committee making a decision to reinclude athletes with learning disabilities back into the Paralympics for London 2012. Some may recall that there was a scandal after the Sydney 2000 games,



when it was discovered that cheating had occurred, such that athletes without learning disabilities entered, competed and won whilst posing as having learning disabilities. The result was exclusion for athletes with learning disabilities (ironic as it was not they who had cheated) and a fierce campaign for re-inclusion began. To be re-included the sports federation that manages this group of athletes (INAS – the International Federation for sport for para-athletes with an intellectual disability; see, in partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) had to demonstrate that (a) this disability had an impact on sports performance i.e. there was a clear reason why people with learning disabilities could not compete in the Olympics, and (b) there were mechanisms in place to properly assess eligibility (i.e. that they did have a learning disability and we could test how it impacted on each specific sport). These were not easy questions to answer, and there is surprisingly little research in this area, but the eventual decision of re-inclusion by the IPC was based on a huge amount of work by a wide range of committed individuals from around the globe. This involved setting up a rigorous set of procedures to produce documentary evidence of an athlete’s intellectual disability, which is then scrutinised by members of an international, independent panel of experienced psychologists. Only if this evidence meets stringent criteria is an athlete deemed eligible to compete in this group. They then need to go through sports classification which is specific to each sport. To develop this the research group produced a conceptual map of the types of intelligence involved in elite sports performance and then compiled a battery of


Abbott, A., Collins, D., Martindale, R. & Sowerby, K. (2002). Talent identification and development: An academic review. Edinburgh: Sport Scotland. Academy of Social Sciences (2011). Making the case for the social sciences: No5. Sport and leisure. Retrieved 4 May 2012 from American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and

Fitness (2000). Intensive training and sports specialization in young athletes. Pediatrics, 106(1), 154–157. Arvaniti, N. (2000). Pedagogical, methodological approach and evaluation of the Olympic Education Programme. In IOA report on the IOA’S Special Sessions and Seminars 2000, Athens 2001, pp.443–453. Baker, J. (2003). Early specialization in youth sport: A requirement for adult

expertise? High Ability Studies, 14(1), 85–94. Balmer, N.J., Nevill, A.M. & Williams, A.M. (2001). Home advantage in the Winter Olympics (1908–1998). Journal of Sports Sciences, 19, 129-139. Balmer, N.J., Nevill, A.M. & Williams, A.M. (2003). Modelling home advantage in the Summer Olympic Games. Journal of Sports Sciences, 21, 469–478.

Balyi, I. (1990). Quadrennial and double quadrennial planning of athletic training. Victoria, BC: Canadian Coaches Association. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Barnett, V. & Hilditch, S. (1993). The effect of an artificial pitch surface on home team performance in football (soccer). Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, 156, 39–50.

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established non-verbal cognitive tests to measure performance in these areas. This data is then supplemented by data collected from specific sports performance, such as pacing for running, stroke rate for swimming and ability to anticipate and play certain strokes in table tennis. Comparative data was collected from non-disabled athletes and a bandwidth approach was taken to assess if an athlete is performing in the range across the tasks below that of a nondisabled athlete but within the range expected for elite athletes with intellectual disabilities. To find out more about the technical aspects of this visit Intellectually, and at times politically, this has been one of the most challenging research projects in which I have been involved, requiring a massive expansion of understanding on my part, ranging from assessing sports intelligence to the workings of international politics. However, it has also brought me travel, many new friends, many beers and an increased ability to work in airport waiting areas. My involvement in the research behind re-inclusion continues, but over this time my role has also expanded. As the London 2012 Paralympics approaches, I find myself the ‘Head of Eligibility’ in INAS. My specific responsibility is to manage the global system that examines the evidence, largely from psychologists, as to whether an athlete actually meets the initial criterion of having a learning disability and is therefore eligible to compete in this class at Paralympic events. Given this is where it all went wrong last time I write this with some trepidation. It has not been an easy route, and there remain many obstacles and fears ahead. If all goes well in London, events will be added to the next Paralympics in Rio, and also involvement in the winter games. Each different sport will need to be researched to show exactly how intellectual disabilities impact, and change the possible level of competence that can be

Biskup, C. & Pfister, G. (1999). I would like to be her/him: Are athletes role models for boys and girls? European Physical Education Review, 5, 199–218. Black, D.E. & Holt, N.L. (2009). Athlete development in ski racing: Perceptions of coaches and parents. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 4(2), 245-260. Bloom, B.S. (1985). Developing talent in young people. New York: Ballantine.

achieved in that sport to meet the Paralympic as opposed to the Olympic criteria. If you are planning to watch the Paralympics, look out for the events for athletes with learning disabilities in swimming (100m), table tennis and athletics (1500m, shot put and long jump). When you see athletes and do not immediately recognise them as having an obvious disability (physical or visual) they are likely to be the athletes with a learning disability. Take a moment to consider their journey to this event. Aside from years of training and some fortunate talent spotting along the way they will have had to overcome considerable impediments to learn, practise, compete

and excel at their sport. Sport for people with learning disabilities is not a wellsponsored sector (see for more information), and so they, their families, and supporters will have undergone considerable strain to raise the money to compete at this level. I hope that a little more understanding of this journey will attract greater attention, interest and ultimately the applause these athletes well deserve. As for me, having been lucky enough to have this involvement, after that speculatively sent e-mail, the words ‘Olympics’ and ‘Paralympics’ have now become much richer terms.

Jan Burns, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University

A role model for youth The true Olympic contender is the one whose physical perfection combines with high spiritual culture. The true Olympic contender must also be honest, generous, loyal to his homeland and patriotic (Pierre de Coubertin, cited in Klementjevs, 2008, p.49).

A ‘role model’ is a person who acts as an inspiration for others and is worthy to imitate. Even though role models are ordinary people, they possess distinguishable characteristics such as courage, determination, fortitude and the pursuit of excellence. What influences individuals to follow others, and what impact could Olympian role models have? Observation is fundamental, as social learning is achieved by imitating others’ behaviours. The attractiveness, competence, behaviour and attributes of the model, and the socio-demographic characteristics of the learner, will all have an impact on learning (Bandura, 1977). Moreover, learners are more likely to identify with certain role models when they feel able to imitate and carry out the model’s behaviour, and thus experience self-efficacy.

Blumenstein, B., Lidor, R. & Tenebaum, G. (2005). Periodization and planning of psychological preparation in elite combat sport programs: The case of judo. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 3, 7–25. Butcher, J., Lindner, K.J. & Johns, D.P. (2002). Withdrawal from competitive youth sport: A retrospective ten-year study. Journal of Sport Behavior, 25(2), 145–161.

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Research suggests that role models coming from elsewhere than the family have a great impact on child behaviour (Fitzclarence & Hickey, 1998). A survey among primary and secondary education students in Europe revealed the reasons Olympic Champions are admired (Telama et al., 2002). The most prominent reasons were athletes’ achievements, their national pride and showing moral behaviour in sports and in general. Interestingly, gender differences play a part: Biskup and Pfister (1999) reported that male pupils in Germany choose athletes as role models because of their strength, aggression and physical skills, whereas girls were more attracted by movie and pop-stars. De Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic movement, believed that the moral characteristics of young people could be developed through their sporting experiences and then extended into adult life (Dacosta, 2006). Athletes combine a highly dynamic and physically attractive personality. Moreover, they are often seen as ambassadors of ideals such as fair play and respect for the opponent regardless of racial, cultural and religious differences (Sollerhed, 2008). Consequently, Olympic champions embody ideals learnt on the

Chengli, T., Huai-Chun, L. & Hsiou-Wei, L. (2011). The economic benefits of mega events: A myth or a reality? A longitudinal study on the Olympic Games. Journal of Sport Management, 25(1), 11–23. Clarke, S.R. (2000). Home advantage in the Olympic games. Proceedings of the Fifth Australian Conference on Mathematics and Computers in Sport, University of Technology Sydney,

pp.76–85. Claxton, G.L. (1999), Wise up: The challenge of lifelong learning. London and New York: Bloomsbury. Coakley, J. (1992). Burnout among adolescent athletes: A personal failure or social problem? Sociology of Sport Journal, 9(3), 271–285. Coté, J. (1999). The influence of the family in the development of talent in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 395–417.


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sporting field that can then transfer into daily life and have a positive impact upon individuals and the community in general. Sport can also generate feelings through an exchange: the athletes give to the fans the gift of superior performance, and get in return their perceived loyalty through the support of certain sports teams, the spectatorship of sporting events or the purchase of sport-related products (Crosset, 2000). On the other hand, a role model doesn’t always have a positive influence on young people. The media keep some athletes in the spotlight, which often damages their reputation. Examples of deviant behaviour in sport include cheating and bribery, the use of performance-enhancing substances, and anger. Undoubtedly, parents would not want their children to imitate this type of behaviour. How can youngsters be provided with positive examples coming from the sporting field? The answer is: Olympic education. Olympic education is a learning process for the teaching of Olympism, where participants are encouraged to learn, comprehend, experience and propagate the Olympic principles (Sermaki et al., 2003). It rests on a deep knowledge of the educational and cultural principles of Olympism and supports the notion that man constitutes an undivided unity (Arvaniti, 2000). For that reason, it harmoniously embraces the spiritual and psychosomatic activities of the individual. Moreover, it cultivates the spirit of sportsmanship and uses the Olympic athlete as a life model for young people to follow. In my view, both children and elite athletes need to be educated in the Olympic values in order for the latter in particular to understand their social responsibility towards the dissemination of positive attitudes. Interestingly, Olympic medallists do recognise their role as mentors for youth. In a study by Georgiadis and Lioumpi (2008), all 22 Olympic medallists surveyed stated that they perceive themselves as ambassadors of Olympic

Coyle, D. (2007). The talent code. New York: Random House. Crosset, W.T. (2000). Role model: A critical assessment of the application of the term to athletes. In J. Gerdy (Ed.) Sports in school: The future of an institution. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University. Dacosta, L.P. (2006). A never-ending story: The philosophical controversy over Olympism, Journal of the Philosophy of


ideals. The majority of the athletes expressed their willingness to enhance their Olympism-related knowledge in order to effectively communicate sporting values to young people through Olympic education programmes. Several countries have capitalised on this in order to develop schemes for motivating and engaging students via the Olympic values. For instance, in the UK the changingLIVES and the Sporting Champions schemes bring world-class athletes into schools across the country in order to inspire young people through their personal stories of success and struggle (Youth Sport Trust, 2011).

In sum, Olympic champions and elite athletes in general are being idolised by young people. Being a role model – positive or not – is inevitable for elite athletes, as sport epitomises high ideals and emotions that cannot be found elsewhere. Olympic athletes appear aware of their social responsibility and willing to foster the true meaning of Olympism, through undergoing proper training on Olympic education. Now it’s up to the National Olympic Academies, schools and sports organisations to put this into practice.

Niki Koutrou, PhD student, Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy, Loughborough University

Olympic level learning It’s not just the 10,000 hours that makes an Olympic medallist. As Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson has shown, just brute, mindless practice gets you nowhere fast. It is the quality of practice that matters. And that means elite performers have to be, above everything else, elite-level learners. They have to be able to suck every last drop of learning juice out of every two hours in the pool or on the track. And sports psychology has developed a valuable database for helping athletes and sportsmen and women to learn how to learn. They know when and how to amplify direct practice with mental rehearsal, and when to use a first-person perspective – being imaginatively inside your own body, feeling your own feelings and looking out through your own eyes – and when to stand back, in your mind’s eye, and watch your performance from the outside. They know how to cultivate the kind of mental toughness that enables you to maintain your peak performance under the most intense pressure, and to bounce back from a bad session and regain your poise. They know how to orchestrate their own training sessions, when to do what and when to allow yourself breaks, so that the most learning happens in the least time. They know how to control their own attention, like a master meditator, so they can watch in minute detail what happens

Sport, 33, 157–173. Dohmen T.J. (2005). Social pressure influences decisions of individuals: Evidence from the behavior of football referees. IZA Discussion Paper, No 1595. Ericsson, K.A., Krampe, R.T. & TëschRomer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100, 363–406.

in their right shoulder as they do their tumble turns, or how their mindset regularly collapses during the third lap out of four in training (see Mellalieu & Hanton, 2009, for a good overview). Some of the same kind of ‘learning how to learn’ training is going on in schools: but not enough. All youngsters, in their history lessons as well as their sports coaching, should learn to see learning itself as a learnable craft – something everyone can get better at, regardless of their so-called ‘academic ability’. Why not use visualisation as a way of strengthening your revision? Taylor et al. (1998) have shown that doing so increases examination scores by 8 per cent. As Michael Caine never actually said, ‘Not a lot of people know that’ – but they should. And teachers should also know about all the useful advice they could pass on to their students from the world of sports. It’s not just Usain Bolt who needs to know how to recover fast from frustration and disappointment: every eight-year-old could benefit from practising the same strategies. During a crucial game, champion snooker player Mark Williams sings loudly inside his own head to block the inner self-critical voice that threatens to undermine his concentration. Any group of GCSE art students might like to

Fitzclarence, L. & Hickey, C. (1998). Learning to rationalise abusive behaviour through football. In C. Hickey, L. Fitzclarence & R. Matthews (Eds.) Where the boys are: Masculinity, sport and education. Geelong: Deakin University. Georgiadis, K. & Lioumpi, P. (2008). The views of Olympic medallists regarding their contribution to the propagation of the Olympic idea among young

people. Proceedings of the 8th International Session for Educators and Officials of Higher Institutes of Physical Education. International Olympic Academy, 10–17 July 2008. Ancient Olympia, Greece. Gilbourne, D. (2006). Reflecting on the reflections of others: Support and critique in equal measure. Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, 2, 49–54. Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York:

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Guy Claxton, Centre for Real-World Learning, University of Winchester

Little, Brown and Co. Gould, D. & Carson, S. (2004). Myths surrounding the role of youth sports in developing Olympic champions. Youth Studies Australia, 23, 19–26. Gould, D., Dieffenbach, K. & Moffett, A. (2002). Psychological characteristics and their development in Olympic champions. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14, 172–204. Gould, D., Udry, E., Tuffey, S. & Loehr, J.


see if a similar strategy could work for them when they are drawing. There is a wealth of psychological research from sport psychology, clinical psychology and many other branches of our discipline, that can contribute to a rich, robust and imaginative psychology to underpin what we have called ‘expansive education’: education that aims to build the confidence, capacity and appetite for learning in all young people, so they are well equipped to pursue their own version of greatness (Claxton, 1999; Lucas & Claxton, 2010). Their field of specialism might be skateboarding, hairdressing or cartooning, rather than dressage or hockey, but the same learning skills, attitudes and mindsets may well apply. As I say, it is plausible that many of the techniques and attitudes developed by elite athletes to boost and intensify their own development could transfer, with some adaptation, to the world of school. But there is an empirical field of research waiting to be mined: to what extent can four-year-olds learn to self-regulate in the way that 25-year-olds can? How can these learning skills be coached in a way that encourages maximum transferability? How much of Phillips Odowu’s learned self-control in a triple-jump final rubs off when he is stuck in a traffic jam? The field of ’expansive psychology’ is wide open – and the 2012 Olympics could be a very good stimulus for its development. At the moment, the ‘mental development’ side of education is rather thin – ‘thinking skills’ on the one hand and ‘social and emotional aspects of learning’ on the other. And much of what passes for advice and training in the area of learning-to-learn is hackneyed, recycled and over-hyped. The psychology of education could take a leaf out of the Olympic coaching manual, and start applying what it already knows – as well as generating more evidence-based advice – to give all young people the wherewithal to learn fast and well in their chosen fields.

Olympic success, but not at the cost of participation or diversification As both a sport psychologist and a fan, the Olympics hold a fascination for me, watching elite athletes at the zenith of their careers. I watch a gold medal-winning performance and ask: Was it innate abilities or deliberate practice that allowed them to reach the highest level? Was it early specialisation or early diversification? I think of some of the young athletes I know, many of whom specialise in one sport before 10 years of age, undergoing so much coaching they have no time for other sports or pastimes. Some preadolescent athletes are often committed to high-performance academies, leaving them no time even for formal schooling. I am simultaneously reminded that Tom Daley, an Olympian at 14 years old, fitted his training around a full schedule of GCSEs at a normal mainstream school. This creates a dilemma for the parents, coaches

(1996). Burnout in competitive junior tennis players. The Sport Psychologist, 10(4), 322–340. Klementjevs, I. (2008). The ‘Olympic Hero’ as a role model in the framework of the educational process of the Youth Olympic Games. Proceedings of the 8th International Session for Educators and Officials of Higher Institutes of Physical Education. International Olympic Academy, 10–17 July 2008.

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and organisers of youth sport programmes. What is the best way to develop young athletes? In my recent experience I have seen a worrying trend in coaching toward the early-specialisation and deliberatepractice model first proposed by K.A. Ericsson and his colleagues (1993). The theory carries a substantial weight of credibility for me as a psychologist and has undoubtedly changed the face of research into athlete development. For coaches, parents and lay people it has been popularised by mainstream books such as The Talent Code (Coyle, 2007), Outliers (Gladwell, 2008) and Bounce (Syed, 2010). These books are entertaining and not without merit, but I fear their popularity has compounded a trend in coach education whereby the theory of deliberate practice and the

Ancient Olympia, Greece. Lee, R. (2008). Beijing blues. Retrieved 4 May 2012 from gblues.aspx Lindsay, P. (2008). Supporting combat sports before and during the Olympic holding camp. The Sport and Exercise Scientist, 18, 18–19. Lucas, B. & Claxton, G.L. (2010), New kinds of smart: How the science of

learnable intelligence is changing education. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Martindale, R.J.J. (2008). Effective talent development environments: Bridging the theory-practice gap within a UK context. Unpublished doctoral thesis. McCann, S.C. (2000). Doing sport psychology at the really big show. In M.B. Andersen, (Ed.) Doing sport psychology (pp.209–222). Champaign,


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corresponding ‘10,000 hours’ rule has been unquestioningly adopted by sports governing bodies keen to motivate coaches and produce a generation of Olympic champions and world-beaters. My concerns only echo the unrest over the specialisation culture that is already found among some experts and commentators. In the American media, the specialisation problem has been linked to the breakdown of community sport, as described by Alexander Wolff in Sports Illustrated (2002). Concerns in Britain have been publicly voiced by the likes of Andrew Flintoff and Glenn Hoddle, while the BBC television documentary Is Professionalism Killing Sport?, broadcast in 2010, addressed issues surrounding specialisation and over-coaching. Gould and Carson (2004) succinctly outline some of the myths about talent development that have arisen among coaches and parents, leading to the belief that early specialisation is the best and perhaps only way to train an elite athlete. These fallacies include: that athletic talent can be predicted prior to puberty; that when it comes to training for talented children ‘the more the better’; that fun has to be sacrificed if a child is to reach the elite level; and that talented children need different early sport programmes than their less talented counterparts (Gould & Carson, 2004). The detrimental effects of specialisation for pre-adolescent athletes are well documented. Physical consequences of early specialisation include increased risk of: overuse and repetitive stress injuries such as tendinitis, apophysitis, stress fractures; OsgoodSchlatter disease; Sever disease; medial epicondylitis; injuries to developing joint surfaces or immature spinal injuries (American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness, 2000). It is also known that, as well as these negative physical outcomes, early specialisation is also linked to athlete drop-out (Butcher et al., 2002; Wiersma, 2000) and burn-out (Coakley, 1992; Gould et al., 1996). Early

IL: Human Kinetics. McCartney, G., Thomas, S., Thomson, H. et al. (2010). The health and socioeconomic impacts of major multi-sport events: Systematic review (1978–2008). British Medical Journal, 340, c2369. Mellalieu, S.D. & Hanton, S. (Eds.) (2009). Advances in applied sport psychology. Abingdon: Routledge. Neave, N. & Woolfson, S. (2003).


specialisation has also been linked to a general reduction in the length of athletic careers, while early diversification allows for positive skill transfer and augmentation of the cognitive and physical abilities needed to help meet the demands of an athlete’s primary sport (Baker, 2003). In summary, it is not acceptable to sacrifice the well-being of young athletes in the pursuit of elite-level performance and Olympic success in the face of evidence demonstrating the negative consequences of early specialisation. Indeed, as Wiersma (2000) notes, because such a vast majority of children (even those labelled as ‘talented’) will not make it to the professional ranks, none should be denied the pleasure of playing a diverse range of sports. Goals for youth sport programmes should be based around

diversity, enjoyment, sustained participation and long careers for young athletes. Coaches and parents must be made aware of potentially debilitating physical, psychological and social consequences of professional-style, deliberate-practice schedules imposed on pre-adolescent children. All these objectives must be prioritised over the goal to produce elite-level athletes capable of competing for Olympic medals. I am as keen as any other fan of sport to see Britain at the top of the medal table, but it must not happen at the expense of wideranging, healthy, sustained participation for all children, including those showing early aptitude. Focus on healthy diversification for all, and elite athletes will emerge.

Luke Regan, Sport Psychology Consultant, London

The Olympic journey Since I was young, the Olympic Games have always seemed to me an aweinspiring spectacle of sporting endeavour. To athletes in most sports, the games are the big one, the event that they completely commit themselves to, and as such the competition is always dramatic. Nowadays it’s the stories and understanding the journey that leads athletes to the games that keep me enthralled. Remembering Kathy Freeman’s 400m victory always reminds me that elite athletes are still human. The hopes of the home nation rested on her shoulders and when she won all she could do was crouch down and cry – such was the emotion she felt. Perhaps this is a poignant reminder of the pressure for those British athletes preparing to win gold in front of a home crowd at London 2012? When I watched Steve Redgrave win his fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal, I didn’t really appreciate how outstanding an achievement that was and how his journey had been shaped over the preceding 20 years. I didn’t even

Testosterone, territoriality, and the ‘home advantage’. Physiology & Behavior, 78, 269–275. Nevill, A.M., Balmer, N.J. & Williams, A.M. (2002). The influence of crowd noise and experience upon refereeing decisions in football. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 3, 261–272. Sermaki, I., Papadimitriou, K., & Taxildaris, K. (2003). Opinions of students of public primary school and

understand the sport, which was ironic considering how involved I have subsequently become in rowing! All I understood was that he had been champion on a number of occasions but that this time lots of people didn’t think he could manage it. What I now understand is that his journey, his story, is a fascinating and unpredictable one. So the stories are what the Olympics mean to me, and I am intrigued by the nature of the athletic journey as a pathway of development. Gould et al. (2002) found that at the highest levels of sport, psychological characteristics were greater predictors of successful performances than physiological characteristics. So the journey is in large part psychological. What, then, does the journey of a future Olympian look like? Most sports governing bodies now have a player pathway based on the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model (Balyi, 1990). This model considers what the pathway of a future Olympian might look like and attempts to break this down into different stages of development.

high school of Thrace regarding the Olympic Education Course. Inquiries in Sport and Physical Education, 2(1), 40–50. Sollerhed, A.C. (2008). Idols and role models for young people. Proceedings of the 8th International Session for Educators and Officials of Higher Institutes of Physical Education. International Olympic Academy, 10–17 July 2008, Ancient Olympia, Greece.

Soteriades, E.S., Hadjichristodoulou, C., Kremastinou, J. et al. (2006). Health promotion programs related to the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic games. BMC Public Health, 6(47). Retrieved 4 May 2012 from PMC1397814 SPEAR (Centre for Sport, Physical Education and Activity Research) (2009). A systematic review of the

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Planning to become a champion, rather than leaving it to chance, is so important that having an LTAD plan is now a prerequisite for receiving lottery funding for many governing bodies (Abbott et al., 2002). However, this model has received criticism (Black & Holt, 2009; Martindale, 2008), and these are focused on the lack of empirical evidence for the stages and the assignment of athletes to stages based on chronological rather than developmental or maturational age. The model is principally based on physiological development and was designed to give governing bodies and coaches a guideline for how to structure long-term development from a primarily physical perspective. The growth of other disciplines, including sport psychology, has led to the incorporation of these fields into the LTAD. However, the model was never designed for this purpose, and as psychologists we should be cautious of excessive criticism of the LTAD. Instead we can also look to other sources for guidance on how we might account for the developmental pathway of future Olympians. For example, Coté’s (1999) model is perhaps more appropriate for describing psychological development. This was based on Bloom’s (1985) earlier work investigating more generalised talent

evidence base for developing a physical activity and health legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. London: Department of Health. Syed, M. (2010). Bounce. London: HarperCollins. Taylor, S., Pham, L., Rivkin, I. & Armor, D. (1998). Harnessing the imagination: Mental simulation, self-regulation and coping. American Psychologist, 53,

development across multiple domains, which included sport. Coté proposed that there were three discrete stages of development: sampling, specialising and investment; each of which was characterised by different environmental and psychological qualities. In short, Coté proposed that athletes began by sampling many sports at a young age, before reducing this number as they specialised and didn’t commit to one sport until they invested at a much later stage. Unlike Balyi’s (1990) model which only considers the development of athletes through one sport, Coté attempts to consider the broader athletic experiences of children and thus is perhaps more able to account for the development of psychological skills and qualities. Ultimately the journey of any Olympic athlete is unpredictable and complex, and any attempts to model this journey are going to be problematic. Arguably, it is impossible to completely account for the complexity of the world in which an athlete develops. However, in attempting to understand what makes Olympic athletes and how they come to be competing at this level, we perhaps begin to ask better questions about the nature of athletic development and how we might begin to help future Olympic champions.

Douglas MacDonald, University of Stirling

429-39. Telama. R., Naul, R., Nupponen, H. et al (2002). Physical fitness, sporting lifestyles, and Olympic ideals: Studies on youth sport in Europe. Schorndorf: Hofmann. Toohey, K. & Veal, A.J. (2007). The Olympic Games: A social science perspective (2nd edn). New York: CABI Publishing. Wallace, H.M., Baumeister, R.F. & Vohs, K.D. (2005). Audience support and

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An Olympics of practitioners For some, the 2012 Olympic games in London will be a career highlight, for others, it will act as a watershed moment in their sporting lives. From a personal perspective, this summer will mark the culmination of four years of support to elite athletes in pursuit of their goals, with the sincere hope that the hard efforts of all involved will be repaid in the fulfilment of their sporting dreams. Since the announcement of the successful bid in July 2005, London 2012 has captivated the hearts and minds of all involved, the Olympic games are always special, but a home Olympics is truly a once-in-alifetime event. Within my role as Lead Sport Psychologist (North of England) within the English Institute of Sport (EIS), I support various Olympic sports, including the GB Boxing squad, the British gymnastics teams and a number of individual athletes. Alongside my applied role, I act as technical lead for numerous practitioners and supervise four jointly funded PhD students that are based alongside me at the EIS in Sheffield. In some ways, working at the Olympic games is no different from working with athletes in other competitive settings (McCann, 2000) – the need to be accessible but not in the way, adapting to the logistical and time pressures inherent in the environment, alongside providing support in less than ideal circumstances (the five-minute consult whilst queuing for meals, waiting in hotel lobbies, or on a coach). However, because of its scale, importance and build-up, the Olympics also brings with it a whole host of additional considerations that can cause some people to respond differently. When supporting and mentoring other practitioners and discussing how the Olympics (and its five rings) can affect people, I often use the analogy of Gollum from Lord of the Rings – once a normal hobbit, the need to possess the ring led to him becoming selfish and resentful. Likewise, some

choking under pressure: A home disadvantage. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23, 429–438. Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J. & Fisch, R. (1974). Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution. New York: Norton. Wiersma, L.D. (2000). Risks and benefits of youth specialization: Perspectives and recommendations. Pediatric Exercise Science, 12, 13–22.

Wolff, A. (2002). The high school athlete. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 4 May 2012 from /article/magazine/MAG1027479/index. htm Youth Sport Trust (2011). Programmes. Retrieved 4 May 2012 from


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practitioners’ perception is that attending the Olympics is a ‘precious’ career goal, and gaining an accreditation is the greatest of goals, as if it’s an Olympics of practitioners (Gilbourne, 2006)! My own experience of similar environments is that they’re rarely how you might initially imagine them. Away from the mediafuelled romanticism, the reality on the ground will be altogether harsher for all involved. In July and August of 2012, during games time, I’m likely to be based at Team GB’s support centre, travelling in to the Olympic village and competition venue each day. It will entail many bus and tube journeys, along with the necessary security checks. Pulled in opposing directions, there will likely be many times of resisting the temptation to intervene and regularly feeling like you should be doing more than you are. Within the EIS psychology team, we consider competition psychology support to take various forms, including acting as a logical sounding board for key decision makers, ensuring that the agreed team processes are followed (e.g. debriefing, team meetings, time keeping, etc.), managing the emotional rollercoaster and being present to assist in crisis management. Our Head of Service for the psychology team within the EIS, Dr Mark Bawden, often says that the Olympic Games can act as a magnifying glass, skewing perception, over-emphasising key areas and restricting our wider field of view. As a result, my role during games time will be to ensure that the teams I support, and the practitioners I mentor, don’t lose sight of the fact that this event does have many similarities to other competitions. Team GB’s athletes will have competed against precisely the same opposition many times over recent years, the boxing ring and the gymnastics apparatus is the same as in their gyms at home. When crises do inevitably occur, we have a simplistic mantra that we teach practitioners, which originated during Dr Mark Bawden’s time at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic games – (i) De-escalate, (ii) Normalise, (iii) Simplify (Lindsay, 2008). Essentially, we teach practitioners to first remove the perception-skewing magnifying glass and logically examine the physical reality of the situation. We then find a way to normalise the situation, linking to prior experiences or similar challenges that others are facing (e.g. previous competitions, training sessions, it’s the same for all the teams, etc.) and finally identify the simplest solution available. Often, we ask our practitioners who attend major tournaments the


question, ‘If you were to do nothing, would this still be a problem in 24 or 48 hours?’. We ask questions such as this as there are often times when a ‘problem’ simply passes without any intervention required, its just a normal part of a major multi-sport championships. At times like these, the real danger is the over-zealous practitioner, whose attempted solutions actually fuel the problem further (Watzlawick et al., 1974). Alongside the above processes and roles, it’s important to recognise that the Olympics isn’t just any other tournament, and in particular, a home Olympics brings with it unique benefits and challenges. Numerous pieces of research have highlighted the ‘home advantage’ in terms of outcomes, particularly in subjectively scored sports (Balmer et al., 2001, 2003), but there can also be a disadvantage to competing at home. For instance, the media build-up is more prolonged, with sports stories normally contained within the back pages of the tabloids quickly becoming front page news due to the increased press exposure.

In autumn 2012, once the carnival has left London and moved on towards Rio, there will be athletes who have fulfilled their Olympic dreams, and others who have not. For both, the period following the Olympics can often be one of transition. Following the 2008 Beijing Olympics numerous athletes expressed feelings of deflation (Lee, 2008), and so whilst preparations will have been proactively put in place to aid athletes during this period, there will be some reactive support required. This support will be provided in the context of funding reviews for sports and thus for practitioners, and so my role as both applied practitioner and practitioner mentor will continue towards 2016. It is hoped that the delivery of psychology support to Britain’s athletes before, during and after London 2012 will deliver a legacy to our discipline, one which can help in taking our discipline to the next level.

Pete Lindsay, Lead Sport Psychologist (North of England), English Institute of Sport

Home advantage As an avid sports fan and Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist with a particular interest in the home advantage, I am eagerly awaiting the London 2012 Olympic Games and hoping that the Great Britain competitors can capitalise on their opportunity to compete on their own territory. The home advantage has a massive impact on national, continental and international competitions. Bookies determine their odds with the venue firmly in mind, and a team’s stadium is often referred to as its fortress. Statistics consistently show better performance at home than away in virtually all team events, including basketball, hockey, baseball, cricket, and the variety of sports known as rugby and football. At the modern Olympics, according to figures gathered by Clarke (2000), the hosting country wins three times as many medals than its average when away, with 14 of the 17 hosts achieving their highest percentage of medals on their home turf. A 2006 analysis by FIFA (the international governing body for football) of nearly 7000 international association football matches not played on neutral territory revealed 49 per cent home wins, with the remaining home results equally divided between draws and defeats. Even within a country, without the drawbacks of major travel upheaval and time zone changes, statistics are similar from

Premier League down. The average goals scored at home and away in the 2010–11 season differed significantly at all levels (e.g. Premier League: 30.9 home, 22.3 away). The reasons for the home advantage have long been debated in the psychological literature, but conclusions are far from definitive. The support of the crowd is often seen as the critical factor: players are believed to be more confident, invigorated and inspired to perform well in front of their fans. Thus the fact that 2012 Olympics audiences will be disproportionately British should theoretically help the GB athletes to perform optimally. Unfortunately, research suggests that these very crowds can prove to be distracting, especially if agitated during a critical event. Interestingly, performers are likely to assume incorrectly that the audience’s encouragement has led them to perform well (see Wallace et al., 2005), even if they have performed better when jeered by hostile onlookers. Evidence suggests that the crowd’s effect on officials judging an event may be far more implicated in the home advantage. Analyses of both Winter and Summer Olympics results (see Balmer et al., 2003) throughout the 20th century reveal that the home advantage occurs mainly in events that are subjectively assessed by judges. It is possible that

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officials may be motivated to please or entertain the crowd and avoid the wrath of fans who are desperate to see a home victory. Dohmen (2005) found that referees in the German Bundesliga added more extra minutes at halftime and fulltime when the home team was behind by a goal, as well as showing less home bias when a running track separated the crowd from the pitch. But non-egoistic information-processing distortions are also likely. Nevill et al. (2002) found football referees only more likely to favour the home team when watching recordings of incidents accompanied by the noise of the crowd; the home bias was eliminated when the referees made their judgements without the accompanying sounds. In football, 40,000 concurrent shouts of ‘Offside!’ might persuade even the most confident referee that an infraction has indeed occurred. At the London Olympics in 1908, two GB judges inexplicably called a foul and cut the tape at the finishing line just before two American athletes reached victory in the 400m race. The peeved Americans refused a rematch, leaving the third placed English athlete to win gold by running unopposed. Accusations of motivated and unconscious ‘cheating’ in such cases have led to moves to reduce subjectivity and within-nation judging wherever possible. Other explanations for the home advantage focus on the benefits of insider

knowledge and easier preparation for home competitions. Familiar foods, language, altitude, weather and facilities are likely to increase competitors’ comfort and confidence. An inflated home advantage was experienced by the few teams who played on home artificial turf in the 1980s (Barnett & Hilditch, 1993). In addition, suffering tedious long journeys and adjusting to time changes can be unsettling and disrupt sleep in teams who do not have the funds to travel in style, arrive early and acclimatise. Some countries actually bring along familiar food supplies and encourage their players to pack their own pillows. So the conditions in London should be less perilous for the GB competitors, many of whom complained of ‘Delhi-belly’ at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India. Our own research (Neave & Wolfson, 2003) has shown a significant surge of testosterone among footballers before home matches compared to away games and baseline measures. Similar increases have been found in lower animals defending their territory, along with impressive improvements in their ability to triumph against larger and more powerful rivals. It is possible that once players don their GB logos, they will feel territorial in their home country and reap similar advantages. This leads to a particularly unusual and intriguing aspect of this summer’s Olympics. England, Scotland, Wales and

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Northern Ireland have historically fielded separate teams for European and international football competitions, but the International Olympics Committee only recognises a GB team. Ever since separate Football Associations for these countries were formed in the late 19th century, few instances of cooperative mergers have been witnessed, some rare exceptions being the 1947 Match of the Century, and more recently a testimonial for Stanley Mathews in 1965, where mixed GB teams played against the Rest of the World. For various reasons – the indignity of fiercely competitive football nations uniting together in battle; the fear that the merger will give European and international governing bodies an excuse to prevent separate entries in future tournaments; the concern that fans’ national social identity will be confused – bitter debate regarding the composition and very existence of a GB team has raged. Solutions have ranged from no team entry at all to a prior tournament for the four nations with only the victor going to the Olympics. It appears, though, that GB will indeed enter a football team, and the details of the 18-man squad will be announced in March. Some high-profile non-English players have indicated their interest in being on the team. Will Ryan Giggs (Wales) and Stephen Fletcher (Scotland) feel territorial if they are selected for the GB team and reach the Wembley finals? Will English players feel equally at home in their group matches in Manchester and London as in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, or Hampden Park in Scotland? Football fans can only wait in anticipation as the drama unfolds. On a related and final note, the Olympics have an added personal meaning for me. I have lived in England for more than two thirds of my life, but I remain an American citizen. There is absolutely no question that I’ll support Great Britain in all events, but if disappointed I do have the luxury of finding some consolation when my ‘second’ national team performs well. Not in football, though. As a passionate football fan, consultant and researcher – and having endured the trauma of England’s poor showing in the 2010 World Cup – I won’t feel any satisfaction at all if the USA triumphs!

Sandy Woolfson, University of Northumbria


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The Olympic legacy The promise of a legacy of social and economic benefits was at the core of the London 2012 bid, with the LOCOG stating their intention to use the Games as a catalyst that would inspire people to lead more active lives, and a new generation of youth to greater participation in sport. This is certainly a necessary ambition. Sport, exercise, and more general forms of activity are good for us in a multitude of ways, yet the vast majority of the UK population don’t do enough of them. In London alone the healthcare cost of inactivity is estimated to be £105 million. Surely then, the £150 that the 2012 Games will cost every UK taxpayer is money well spent if it helps lessen this burden on the public purse by encouraging people to adopt physical activity habits now that might endure over their lifespan. But is this a realistic aim? At best the findings are inconclusive. In Barcelona, the proportion of the local population doing physical activity at least

once a week grew from 36 per cent in 1983, to 47 per cent in 1989. The opposite effect followed the Manchester Commonwealth Games, where sport and exercise participation decreased (McCartney et al. 2010). Participation in many sports also declined following the Sydney Games in 2000, with no change in general physical activity levels (Toohey & Veal, 2007). Of several health promotion projects in Greece around the 2004 Athens Games only two targeted physical activity, and no impact data has been published (Soteriades et al., 2006). Likewise, evidence is unavailable to assess whether the proportion of the Beijing population who participated in regular sports activities increased by the anticipated 5 per cent as a direct result of the 2008 Games. Health behaviours can be influenced by economic determinants such as income, but host nations often suffer greater unemployment and inflation for several years following large sports events


Do the Olympics ignite interest – or crash and burn?


(Chengli et al. 2011). Nor is there much support for the notion that hosting major events has a significant effect of increasing mass sports participation at the grassroots level. No surprise, then, that our own government concluded that hosting an Olympic Games would not be ‘an effective value-for-money method of achieving...a sustained increase in mass participation’. That there is little evidence that major sporting events deliver enduring health benefits for the host population will come as no surprise to sport and exercise psychologists and other practitioners who specialise in health behaviour change. Those people who need to be more active are not likely to take up judo or diving simply because they watched those sports on television this year, not even when we have placed a shiny new sports facility in their community. Commonly, they will lack the self-confidence, self-efficacy, sense of autonomy, competence or control to even join a beginners’ aerobics class. Host nations have presumably based their hopes for an increase in sport and exercise participation upon lay theories about how motivating it is to watch people perform sports at an elite level, or the notion that simply providing facilities encourages their use. What’s missing is an attention to the processes by which people can be encouraged to begin and then sustain new healthy behaviours as a result of these Games, and the reasons why it might be important to them to consider doing so. Here in the UK the local health authorities have acknowledged that we cannot assume a physical activity legacy will manifest itself merely as a result of hosting the Games, and have taken steps to understand how we can make it happen. The resultant review by Mike Weed and colleagues (SPEAR, 2009) included a systematic analysis of the barriers and drivers to physical activity, framed by models of health behaviour change and motivation. Importantly, there is the recognition that sport participation is unlikely to be the first step for a sedentary person to become more active. Instead, through several campaigns NHS London hopes to encourage people to make smaller changes in their lives, such as walking or cycling to work. Another significant strategy is the recommendation that we utilise the ‘festival effect’ to tap into people’s sense of community, shared values, and desire to be part of something bigger. This approach can encourage selfdetermination through building relatedness within the community, and autonomy through the selection of more

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culturally- and values-relevant activities. Building social capital within our communities can also help encourage and sustain other positive health behaviours on a longer-term basis. Communities that are rich in support, social trust and membership, provide information, and have appropriate norms, can facilitate the achievement of health goals and discourage risky health behaviour for individuals within them. Thinking only about increased participation in physical activity is to take a rather impoverished view of the potential impact of sport and recreation activities on society, particularly when considering how we might secure a lasting legacy from the 2012 Games. A recent joint publication of the Academy

of Social Sciences and the BPS, Making the Case for the Social Sciences: Sport and Leisure (2011), describes several projects that illustrate the potential of sport and recreation to contribute to positive social outcomes beyond improved health and fitness. Sport participation can be seen to enhance the lives of marginalised or excluded groups, plays an important role in developing young people’s life skills, can reduce youth crime and truancy, and improve attitudes to learning. To harness the 2012 Games to capture these benefits would require considerably more thought and effort. For the first time a host city has in place a comprehensive set of evidencebased strategies for raising physical activity levels, using the Olympic Games

as a catalyst. However, the bulk of the effort has been to hit key performance targets by 2012 with little talk of what happens next. As the festival effect wanes, the challenge is to take this opportunity to produce longer-term sustainable behaviours beyond 2012. This will require coherent multi-agency strategies, and should include input from psychologists who specialise in this field. Sport and exercise participation has the potential to benefit us as individuals and as a society in so many more ways than the most immediately obvious ones. Unfortunately it seems likely that much of the potential of 2012 will not be harnessed adequately, in time, or at all.

Helen O'Connor, Sport and exercise psychologist (in training)

Olympic Games preparations in Scotland within less obvious areas such as mobile athletes who will recognise London as phone calls and texts from family, friends their first Olympics. However, for other and well wishers, will play a part. athletes London may represent their final Within the current four-year Olympic Olympics, or another Olympics in the cycle to London, the series. Although there will sportscotland be similarities throughout, institute of sport interventions will be provides sport adapted and tailored to psychology support each individual’s situation to several Olympic and environmental and Paralympic requirements. The programmes intervention process often including GB Boccia includes multidisciplinary (a Paralympic target objectives in order to create ball sport belonging a best-fit solution. This to the same family circumstance may create an as petanque and additional role for the sport bowls). The psychologist, in integrating sportscotland these interactions. institute’s mechanism Every attempt will be of recording key made so that Great Britain’s objectives and athletes are best prepared capturing periodised for and can cope with the Stephen McGuire – Olympic support solutions is performance requirements hopeful in Boccia delivered through at the London Olympic project Games such that they documentation. Underpinning this record either meet or exceed their intended is high-level planning information which targets. This preparation includes medical, provides both a landscape and detailed physical and technical support. Postjourney of milestone stages across Olympics we will be assessing the efficacy preparation, competition and qualification of our input and solutions, and the events leading to London 2012. Support evaluation process will include external work typically focuses upon athlete review, for example the British Olympic processes such as decision making. Association review processes. This Recording the influence of our support evaluation will occur in addition to upon targeted decision-making needs, and sportscotland’s internal review processes. then assessing decision-making progress External review is welcomed and lessons within training and competitions, learnt will really inform our reflective provides measured insight into how practice, growth and evolution within the athletes are responding to our work. high-performance sport sector. The sportscotland team: Danielle Adams, Whilst working with London 2012 Misha Botting, Laura Carey, Kris Dun, athletes, we’re also working with Rio 2016 Malcolm Fairweather & John Marchant in mind. Therefore, preparations include

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In our preparations for London 2012 and at the sportscotland institute of sport, our philosophy of sport psychology service provision is based on underpinning theory and evidence-based guidelines, to provide a strong foundation upon which key support questions can be addressed. However, in the case of our Olympic preparations, targeted sport psychology support is also adapted and tailored to the unique circumstances and patterns of performance preparation behaviours that are involved. At the forefront of our performance sport decision-making process i.e., when support is proposed and agreed, is the ‘periodisation’ of sport psychology support. Periodised performance sport training programmes provide explicit training phases and critical programme progressions leading into key events. There are recognisable benefits when integrating psychological preparation to targeted training phases in the periodised Olympic cycle (Blumenstein et al., 2005). Therefore, an explicit goal in our preparation for London is ultimately that the robustness of targeted sport psychology interventions is not overchallenged by the London 2012 environment or by surrounding circumstances. The home game environment brings its own challenges, and the effects of a home games have previously been recorded by the Canadian Olympic Committee and their ‘Own the Podium’ programme. Lessons learned from this programme have recently been presented at UK Sport’s World Class Coaching Conference. Athletes’ performance can be influenced by home games pressures, therefore managing public expectations, and personal communication management



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What have the Romans ever done for us? Tadhg MacIntyre on the contribution of sport and exercise psychology and the Olympics to mainstream psychology



hinking about the Olympic games can evoke emotive images within us. Whether it’s the winning performances of Alan Wells in the 100m in Moscow 1980, the double gold of Kelly Holmes in her middle-distance events, marathon runner Paula Radcliffe struggling in Athens, or one of Sir Steve Redgrave’s triumphs across his five Olympiads, these images can spring from the recesses of our mind like a sprinter from the blocks. The Olympic and Paralympic Games in London will undoubtedly leave us with a library of images that are linked to our personal interests, affiliations and nationhood. However, sport, in the context of psychology, goes far beyond these vivid, individual recollections. Within psychology, sport has provided researchers from an array of approaches with both metaphors and inspiring examples for fundamental scientific discoveries. Indeed, William James, Frederic Bartlett, B.F. Skinner and Albert Bandura all used sporting examples to explain imagery, motor schema, operant behaviour and self-efficacy, respectively (Jourden et al., 1991; Kremer & Moran, 2008; Skinner, 1965). To illustrate, watching cricket helped Bartlett (1932) to develop his theory of schemata: ‘Suppose I am making a stroke in a quick game, such as tennis or cricket. How I make the stroke depends on the relating of certain new experiences, most of them visual, to other immediately preceding visual experiences and to my posture, or balance


Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Brady, A. & Maynard. I. (2010). Debate: At an elite level the role of a sport psychologist is entirely about performance enhancement. Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, 6(1), 59–66. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New

of postures, at the moment… When I make the stroke I do not, as a matter of fact, produce something absolutely new, and I never merely repeat something old. The stroke is literally manufactured out of the living visual and postural “schemata” of the moment and their interrelations’ (pp.201–202). At a broader level, for those within the discipline of sport and exercise psychology, two main approaches persist. One group of exponents is primarily concerned with enhancing athletic performance (Brady & Maynard, 2010), while for the other group the sport and exercise context provides a dynamic natural laboratory for inquiry into more fundamental psychological questions (Moran, 2009). These divergent views reflect the competing influences of psychology, kinesiology, physical education and, more recently, sport science in the genesis of contemporary sport and exercise psychology. To explain, the common mission of sport scientists is ‘to optimise the mental and physical preparation, performance and overall experience of competitive sports participants’ (Thatcher et al., 2009, p.1). It is not surprising, therefore, that the nature of the relationship between sport and psychology has been described as one that has gone from dependence, to independence, and more recently towards interdependence (Walker et al., 2006). Over the course of this relationship, sport psychology, in the prodigal years, borrowed from mainstream psychology,

York: HarperCollins. Decety, J. & Sommerville, J.A. (2003). Shared representations between self and others. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 527–533. Driskell, J.E., Copper, C. & Moran, A. (1994). Does mental practice enhance performance? Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 481–492. Jeannerod, M. (2006). Motor cognition: What actions tell the self. Oxford:

and then arguably ignored mainstream as those engaged in sport psychology developed their own specialised models. More recently, a spirit of interdependence has emerged between sport psychology and mainstream psychology. A fundamental question regarding this relationship between the subdiscipline and the parent discipline is, to paraphrase the character ‘Reg’ in The Life of Brian, what has sport psychology ever done for mainstream psychology? Three key contributions merit discussion.

Positive psychology One of the inspirations for the positive psychology movement was research on optimism with Olympic athletes and studies on ‘flow’ largely based on sport performers (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). In 1988 Martin Seligman and colleagues studied explanatory style among top-class swimmers. They asked swimmers (divided into optimists and pessimists on the basis of Explanatory Style Questionnaire scores) to swim their favoured event and then provided them with false feedback (slightly slower than the recorded times). A short period later they were required to repeat their swim distance and predictably, the optimists improved while the pessimists were slower than their initial effort (Seligman et al., 1990). He concluded after this classic study that you could predict the behaviour of optimists and pessimists, but he said the jury was out on whether you could change their explanatory style. Over two decades later, armed with research on learned optimism, flow and resilience, the now burgeoning field of positive psychology had evolved to such an extent that the US military had

Oxford University Press. Jourden, F.J., Bandura, A. & Banfield, J.T. (1991). The impact of conceptions of ability on self-regulatory factors and motor skill acquisition. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 8, 213–226. Kremer, J. & Moran, A. (2008). Swifter, higher, stronger. The Psychologist, 21, 740–742. Moran, A. (2009). Cognitive psychology in

sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10(4), 420–426. Moran, A., Guillot, A., MacIntyre, T. & Guillot, C. (2012). Re-imagining mental imagery. British Journal of Psychology, 103, 224–247. Morgan, W.P. & Pollock, M.L. (1977). Psychological characteristics of the elite distance runner. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 301, 382–403.

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agreed to train their 1.1m personnel in this approach. The American Psychologist devoted a special issue to the topic, in which a comprehensive military fitness programme focusing on resilience training and positive psychology was outlined (Seligman & Fowler, 2011). The story is just beginning: positive psychology represents a fundamental paradigm shift in the discipline of psychology, with vast potential in preventative medicine and beyond. Interestingly, sport psychologists are now considering how they can integrate the concepts and methods of positive psychology into both organisational sport psychology and in applied practice for individuals (Park-Perin, 2010; Wagstaff et al., 2012).

Physical activity

AP/Press Association Images

In 1988 the seminal journal in the field of sport psychology was renamed the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. This watershed moment within the field and the subsequent emergence of the interdisciplinary field of physical activity are attributable to a research paradigm that emerged from studies on the mood profiles of elite athletes. Bill Morgan’s discovery of the ‘iceberg profile’ was the landmark finding in the early forays into exercise research. In 1977 Morgan and Pollock reported that athletes scored below the norms on the negative indices (e.g. depression, fatigue, and anger) of the Profile of Mood States and above the norms on vigour (hence ‘the iceberg profile’). Furthermore, a body of research accumulated that, using this mood measure, linked positive mental health and successful sporting performance. Conversely, psychopathology and athletic success were

Park-Perin, G. (2010). Positive psychology. In S.J. Hanrahan & M. Andersen (Eds.) Routledge handbook of applied sport psychology (pp.141–149). New York: Routledge. Seligman, M.E.P. & Fowler, R.D. (2011). Comprehensive soldier fitness and the future of psychology. American Psychologist, 66(1), 82–86. Seligman, M.E.P., Nolen-Hoeksema, S.N., Thornton, N. & Thornton, K.M. (1990).

predicted to be inversely related. This was supported by findings that injured or over-trained athletes possessed inverted iceberg profiles. Not without criticism, reviewers highlighted problems with using a ‘state’ measure to make long-term predictions of athletic success. Nevertheless, this paradigm provided a more objective measure than had been previously conceived. The idea that physical activity could change mood had previously been catalogued largely in phenomological terms (e.g. ‘runnershigh’). A mental health model which had exercise at its core was established by Bill Morgan, stimulating research on the psychological effects of exercise. As a result, it is now readily accepted that exercise can be prescribed as an adjunct to other therapies in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, and that physical activity and exercise can act as a buffer against depression (Teychenne et al., 2010). Some of the non-specifics of therapeutic interventions can now be more clearly understood, like the impact of therapeutic lifestyle changes, including exercise and activity in natural environments (see Walsh, 2011).

in performance were from the PP/MP combined group. As a result, the general conclusion was that mental practice had a significant positive effect on motor-skill performance (see Driskell et al., 1994). Among the key researchers in imagery and action, who capitalised on the findings on mental practice, were Marc Jeannerod (1935–2011) and Jean Decety. They were concerned not with the effect of imagery per se, but on the exploring the nature of representation. Firstly, Jeannerod used imagery as a means of investigating the representation of action, postulating that imagery was essentially covert action, which led to the development of the field of motor cognition, a research domain that is concerned with understanding action (Jeannerod, 2006). Similarly, based on the neurocognitive evidence showing an overlap in the representation of action in self and others, social neuroscience evolved as a discipline in its own right (Decety & Sommerville, 2003). Mental practice itself has continued to generate interest among sport psychologists, neuroscientists and those involved in neurorehabiliation (see Moran et al., 2012).

Mental practice When William James wrote that we can learn to skate in summer and swim in winter, he was alluding to the power of our imagination or imagery processes on skill acquisition. For over a century this question intrigued researchers and it became a major research topic within sport psychology. As far back as 1943 Vandell et al. were investigating the function of mental practice in the acquisition of motor skills (Vandell et al., 1943). By the mid-1990s a number of meta-analytic reviews had synthesised the evidence from numerous independent studies. The findings were that a mental practice (MP) condition, although less effective than physical practice (PP) condition in motor-skill enhancement, was more effective than a control condition. Interestingly, the largest gains

Explanatory style as a mechanism of disappointing athletic performance. Psychological Science, 1(2), 143–146. Skinner, B. (1965). Science and human behavior. New York: Pearson. Teychenne, M., Ball, K. & Salmon, J. (2010). Physical activity, sedentary behavior and depression among disadvantaged women. Health Education Research, 25(4), 632–644. Thatcher, R., Thatcher, J., Day, M. et al.

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Beyond the podium The contributions outlined above demonstrate that while sport psychology didn’t give us sanitation, irrigation or roads (thanks Romans!), it has opened doors to new paradigms, spawned interdisciplinary domains, and offered us a window into the representation of action. The interdependency between the mother discipline and the field of research that encompasses the sport and exercise domain is now more fruitful than ever. When we see athletes take gold in the London Games, remember that sport and exercise psychology has a contribution far beyond the podium. I Tadhg MacIntyre is at the University of Ulster

(2009). Sport and exercise science. Exeter: Learning Matters. Vandell, R.A., Davis, R.A. & Clugston, H.A. (1943). The function of mental practice in the acquisition of motor skills. Journal of General Psychology, 29, 243–250. Wagstaff, C., Fletcher, D. & Hanton, S. (2012). Positive organizational psychology in sport. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 24(1), 26–47.

Walker, G., Kremer, J. & Moran, A. (2006). Coming of age in sport psychology. Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, 2(1), 43–49. Walsh, R. (2011). Lifestyle and mental health. American Psychologist, 66(7), 579–592.



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made taking advanced multivariate statistics courses extra hard, although I was able to prevail and learn a great deal.

‌with Dan Gould

One thing that organised psychology could do better Translate research into practical and easily understandable guidelines that less educated and interested people can use.

Specialist in Applied Sport Psychology, Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University

participation but are much more likely to come when sport is facilitated and coached by qualified competent adults. Much of the public, however, assumes just

One context outside of sport that sport psychology can make a significant contribution to Business – many applications from sport psychology research and practice resonate well there. One cultural recommendation Watch the movie Seabiscuit. It conveys a great deal about psychology and the role sport can play in human existence at the personal, social and societal level.

One book psychologists should read Good to Great by Jim Collins. One favourite Olympic memory Marching with the US team in Opening Ceremonies at the Nagano Winter Olympic Games.

coming soon


One little known benefit of sport for children Numerous psychological benefits can be derived from


Dan Gould

by playing sport automatically leads to a number of psychological benefits.

The widely used undergraduate textbook I co-authored with Robert Weinberg (2011), Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, because it probably introduced more students to sport and exercise psychology than any other book published to date.

One thing that you would change about psychology Urge those in the field to try to think more about what we can better do to reach individuals who are not as attracted to psychological ideas as we are. One regret In high school I regret not paying more attention in my math classes because I did not see how X or Y could have practical application. Weaknesses in those areas

A special issue on psychology and time; Lego and psychology; preventing violence in institutions; and much more... I Send your comments about The Psychologist to the editor, Dr Jon Sutton, on, +44 116 252 9573 or to the Leicester office address I To advertise Display:, +44 (0)20 7880 6244 Jobs and, +44 (0)20 7880 7556


One inspiration My high school baseball coach. Our teams were just average until he came to the school. He talked a little differently than our other coaches, did things differently like having us wear practice uniforms, set formal goals, and focused on little details. Looking back, he taught me more about the psychology of excellence than anyone else during my formative years.

One challenge you think psychology faces How to find ways to generate external funding to support research efforts. One nugget of advice for aspiring psychologists Recognise that those with whom you work, consult or teach are as much a source of knowledge about psychology as we are. Learn from them and never stop learning from them. One alternative career path you might have chosen Becoming a high physical education school teacher and coach. One great thing that psychology has achieved Helped us better understand the human condition in all its varied elements. One problem that psychology should deal with How to ensure the optimal development of youth, regardless of race, culture and economic condition. One final thought Try to find a career or aspect of psychology about which you are passionate. That way, you can work a lifetime without really working!

Think you can do better? Want to see your area of psychology represented more? See the inside front cover for how you can contribute and reach 50,000 colleagues into the bargain, or just e-mail your suggestions to

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july 2012

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CPD Workshops Professional development opportunities from your learned Society EVENT


Mindfulness in the context of coaching psychology (SGCP)

3 July

Building bridges: East & west psychology and psychotherapy in practice (DCP Faculty Race & Culture)

4 July

Introduction to CBT in schools (DECP)

6 July

Motivational interviewing: A practitioner workshop in supporting client behaviour change in sport, exercise & health (DSEP) 12–13 July Doing dialogue: Creating structured, critical & creative discussion in groups (DOP)

16 July

Anxiety management – Theory to practice (DSEP)

17 July

Where do we go from here? History, theory and values in learning disability services (DCP)

18 July

Formulation: An integrative approach (DCP Pre-qualification Group)

31 August

Masterclass in career coaching: Challenging clients (DOP)

11 September

Preventing sexual violence (DFP)

13 September

Supervision skills: Essentials of supervision (Workshop 1)

21 September

Supervision skills: Enhancing supervision skills (Workshop 2)

22 September

Becoming an effective supervisor (Part 1)

24 September

Becoming an effective supervisor (Part 2)

25 September

An experiential introduction to Mindfulness: Compassion, choice and gratitude (DCP & DCoP)

2 October

Understanding social bias and its relevance to business psychology – How to measure it and how to manage it (DOP)

4 October

Supervision in coaching psychology: Professional practice day (SGCP)

5 October

Updates in CBT to work with OCD (DCP & DCoP)

8 October

Supervision skills: Models of supervision (Workshop 3)

12 October

Mental health at work: Improving well-being in the workplace (DOP)

17 October

Supervision skills: Workshop 4 – Ongoing development supervison of supervision (DCoP Scotland)

19 October

Introduction to compassion focused therapy (Psychotherapy Section)

24 October

Perpetrators of intimate partner abuse: Risk implications from research to practice (DFP)

25 October

How to develop style flexibility in leaders (DOP)

1 November

Developing and evaluating internet-delivered behaviour change interventions using the LifeGuide (DHP)

1 November

Applying psychology to education and learning for post 16 to 25 year olds with complex needs (DECP)

6 November

Supervision Masterclass: Developing and maintaining effective supervisory relationships (DCoP)

7 November

Leadership skills – Breaking the glass ceiling (DCoP)

9 November

Best practice in expert witness work and independent psychological services (DCP)

9 November

For more information on these CPD events and many more visit


vol 25 no 7

july 2012

The Psychologist July 2012  

This is a preview of the July issue of The Psychologist, published by the British Psychological Society. The whole issue will be available i...