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Introduction to Psychology

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Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Lesson 44
Have You Ever Thought About These Issues?
Why don't cricketers show a consistent performance?
Why do they come back to the pavilion when we expected them to make a century?
Why do sportsmen end up with a sprain or a pulled muscle when they had to play a crucial
Why do spectators cheer up their favorite teem and hoot the other one? Why do some players
become aggressive, agitated. Irritable, and even refuse to play when hooted or teased by the
The answers to these questions may be found in sport psychology.
Sport Psychology
·  Exercise and sport psychology is Division 47 of APA.
·  The branch of psychology that studies, understands, describes, and predicts the impact of
psychological variables on athletic and sport performance.
Sport psychology is the application of the principles, knowledge, training, and understanding of psychology for the understanding
of factors affecting sport performance, with an aim to improve it, and to make the sportspersons feel stronger and more confident.
"The application of psychological principles to sport and physical activity at all levels of skill
development" (Brown an Mahoney, 1984).
History of Sport Psychology
Although man was always interested in sports, in improving sport performance, in sport
training, and in negatively affecting the performance of the opponent's team, the history of
scientific research is not very old.
Research in psychological aspects of sport originated in Europe and then flourished in the U.S.
The earliest proper sport research was reported by Norman Triplett in 1897.
He analyzed the performance of cyclists under conditions of social facilitations.
For this purpose he used field observation and secondary data.
He reported from his research that the presence of other competitors could facilitate better
cycling performance.
Coleman Roberts Griffith
·  Known as the father of Sport psychology in North America.
·  He established the first sport psychology laboratory at the University of Illinois in 1925.
·  He studied the nature of psychomotor skills, motor learning, and the relationship between
personality variables and physical performance.
The formative years of Sport psychology
The period from 1950 to 1980 is considered as the formative years of sport psychology.
Sport psychology emerged as a separate discipline distinct from exercise physiology and motor
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
The Subject Matter of Sport Psychology
Sport performance
Psychological Characteristics of Athletes
One of the areas of special interest to the sport psychologists is the study of personality
characteristics of athletes and sportspersons.
One could predict sport performance and choose good athletes if one knew the psychological
indicators of sport performance
One has to be clear about the different connotations of the words `athletes' and `sportsmen'.
Although the two terms are used differently in everyday life vocabulary, to a sport psychologist
these two do not mean much different.
Some Research Findings
·  Although not very strong empirical evidence is available on this issue, some interesting facts
are available in research literature.
As compared to the non athletes, the athletes usually score higher on tests of: assertion
Aggression, and
Need for achievement
Athletes score lower on
Anxiety level
Depression, and
These findings stand truer when the athletes are at a high skill level.
Athletes in some sports e.g. hockey and football are more tolerant of pain as compared to
athletes in other sports e.g. bowling or golf.
But there is some evidence suggesting that the pain tolerance may be an outcome of an
athlete's success rather than a cause.
Enhancing and Maximizing Sport Performance
One of the major tasks of a sport psychologist is to assist the trainers, the coaches, and the
team managers as well as the sportspersons themselves in raising the level of performance.
In this regard, a major portion of research evidence pertains to the arousal level of the
Sport psychologists have also worked in the following areas:
Enhancing motivation
Learning relaxation techniques
Stress management
Pain control and management
Overcoming anxiety
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
·  Enhancing stamina
·  Improving performance
Arousal level
·  Sport psychology suggests that sport performance can be improved by manipulating arousal
level of the
one playing in the field.
Arousal level has been found to be related with motivation of the sportsperson.
A certain level of arousal is good, in fact essential, for sport performance and competition.
However, too much or too little arousal has negative effects.
What is Arousal?
Arousal is a neutral physiological phenomenon or state accompanied by:
Increased heart rate
Elevated Blood pressure
Rapid respiration
Increased metabolism
More than usual hormone secretion
The state of arousal is an active sympathetic nervous system (SNS) state.
It is like a fight or flight response.
How much Arousal is Good for Sport Performance?
·  Although no standard can be fixed for it, research shows that different levels of arousal may be
involved in optimal performance on different tasks.
According to Cox (1990):
·  Making a long putt in golf requires a low level of arousal,
·  Blocking a shot in volley ball requires a slightly higher level,
·  Making a tackle in football an even higher level, and
·  A bench press in weight lifting requires a very high level of arousal.
Arousal Level and the Role of a Sport psychologist
A sport psychologist makes the sportspersons aware of, and sensitive to, their arousal level.
They are trained to maintain arousal at a certain appropriate level in a manner that the task
being performed remains concentrated upon.
The knowledge of biofeedback is applied here.
They are trained in being sensitive to arousal related indicators e.g. blood pressure, respiration
rate, heart and pulse rate, muscle tension etc.
There is abundant evidence available that suggests, and that has proved, that human beings
can gain control over even their involuntary functions.
Mental Practice: Helping sportspersons give "Peak Performance"
Sport psychologists have devised strategies for helping athletes and others in reaching and
maintaining peak performance.
Research suggests that mental practice involving "imagery "accompanied by actual physical
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
practice is helpful in learning skills, improving and maintaining performance.
Mental Practice and Sport Performance
Rehearsing the task mentally, imagining one's self in the actual field.
Functions of Mental Practice
The task at hand is rehearsed mentally. This provides a vivid image of the scenario to occur
Negative thoughts that may interfere with performance are reduced.
The sportsperson can rehearse his/her part in a team sport.
It helps in setting realistic goals.
The Phenomenon of Home Field Advantage
·  It is a common observation that athletes and sportspersons perform better and are more
relaxed when playing in home ground.
Psychological research does not provide a 100% solid support to this observation.
Mixed findings are available in this regard.
Research has shown that frenzied, yelling, screaming hometown fans may raise arousal levels
of the home team beyond the point of maximum efficiency.
This reveals the negative effects of playing on the home ground.
One possible fallout may be that the athletes feel more under pressure as they feel they are
expected to perform at their best, and no one is going to forgive a mistake.
According to Mahoney, while commenting on Olympic athletes:
"At this level of competition the different between two athletes is 20 percent physical and 80
percent mental".
Mental practice can help overcome this problem.
Other strategies used by sport psychologists
Overcoming self consciousness
The same tactics as those used for assertiveness training are used.
Principles of learning and sport performance
·  Operant conditioning approach involving positive reinforcement is effective in raising
motivation to performance at peak level.
In learning a sport observational learning is most beneficial.
Vicarious learning can take place through direct, live observation, or through video recordings.
Stress management and overcoming anxiety
Relaxation techniques
Good nutrition
Developing optimism through cognitive interventions
Self Talk
Table of Contents:
  1. WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY?:Theoretical perspectives of psychology
  3. SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT:Biological Approach, Psychodynamic Approach
  4. PERSPECTIVE/MODEL/APPROACH:Narcosis, Chemotherapy
  5. THE PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH/ MODEL:Psychic Determinism, Preconscious
  6. BEHAVIORAL APPROACH:Behaviorist Analysis, Basic Terminology, Basic Terminology
  8. RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY (I):Scientific Nature of Psychology
  9. RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY (II):Experimental Research
  11. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT:Socio- Cultural Factor, The Individual and the Group
  12. NERVOUS SYSTEM (1):Biological Bases of Behavior, Terminal Buttons
  13. NERVOUS SYSTEM (2):Membranes of the Brain, Association Areas, Spinal Cord
  14. ENDOCRINE SYSTEM:Pineal Gland, Pituitary Gland, Dwarfism
  15. SENSATION:The Human Eye, Cornea, Sclera, Pupil, Iris, Lens
  16. HEARING (AUDITION) AND BALANCE:The Outer Ear, Auditory Canal
  17. PERCEPTION I:Max Wertheimer, Figure and Ground, Law of Closure
  18. PERCEPTION II:Depth Perception, Relative Height, Linear Perspective
  19. ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS:Electroencephalogram, Hypnosis
  20. LEARNING:Motor Learning, Problem Solving, Basic Terminology, Conditioning
  21. OPERANT CONDITIONING:Negative Rein forcer, Punishment, No reinforcement
  22. COGNITIVE APPROACH:Approach to Learning, Observational Learning
  23. MEMORY I:Functions of Memory, Encoding and Recoding, Retrieval
  24. MEMORY II:Long-Term Memory, Declarative Memory, Procedural Memory
  25. MEMORY III:Memory Disorders/Dysfunctions, Amnesia, Dementia
  26. SECONDARY/ LEARNT/ PSYCHOLOGICAL MOTIVES:Curiosity, Need for affiliation
  27. EMOTIONS I:Defining Emotions, Behavioral component, Cognitive component
  28. EMOTIONS II:Respiratory Changes, Pupillometrics, Glandular Responses
  29. COGNITION AND THINKING:Cognitive Psychology, Mental Images, Concepts
  31. PERSONALITY I:Definition of Personality, Theories of Personality
  32. PERSONALITY II:Surface traits, Source Traits, For learning theorists, Albert Bandura
  33. PERSONALITY III:Assessment of Personality, Interview, Behavioral Assessment
  34. INTELLIGENCE:The History of Measurement of Intelligence, Later Revisions
  35. PSYCHOPATHOLOGY:Plato, Aristotle, Asclepiades, In The Middle Ages
  36. ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR I:Medical Perspective, Psychodynamic Perspective
  37. ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR II:Hypochondriasis, Conversion Disorders, Causes include
  38. PSYCHOTHERAPY I:Psychotherapeutic Orientations, Clinical Psychologists
  39. PSYCHOTHERAPY II:Behavior Modification, Shaping, Humanistic Therapies
  40. POPULAR AREAS OF PSYCHOLOGY:ABC MODEL, Factors affecting attitude change
  41. HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY:Understanding Health, Observational Learning
  42. INDUSTRIAL/ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY:‘Hard’ Criteria and ‘Soft’ Criteria
  43. CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY:Focus of Interest, Consumer Psychologist
  44. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Some Research Findings, Arousal level
  45. FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY:Origin and History of Forensic Psychology