Human Motor Behavior: An Introduction

Human Motor Behavior: An Introduction

Human Motor Behavior: An Introduction

Human Motor Behavior: An Introduction

Excerpt

Why should anyone be interested in studying motor skills? One answer is that until quite recently many people were not. Psychologists for example might be the group of individuals to whom issues of how actions are generated might be the most germane. But by and large psychologists (of the experimental and physiological kind) have been of two types: one (sometimes called behaviorist) sees motor skill as a non-issue. Behavior is simply a function of "habits" or "response probabilities" developed by the number and strength of the stimulus- response reflex units built up through "experience." What matters is that a pigeon or a rat presses the bar; how the pigeon or rat does it is of no significance. The other type of psychologist (sometimes called cognitive) tends to ignore the problems of motor skill. After all, what is really interesting are things like perception, cognition and memory. "Translating" the results of these processes--organizing movements--seems pretty trivial by comparison.

This book is based on the contrary belief that the determinants of motor skill and the conjoint problems of how movements are coordinated and controlled are fundamentally important to anyone concerned with understanding human behavior. This includes psychologists, but applies even more especially to other disciplines--such as physical education and kinesiology--for which the subject of movement is particularly germane. In fact, this book is written primarily for undergraduates in kinesiology and physical education as well as psychology, and it may also be of interest to students in areas such as physical therapy, engineering and computer science.

It seems fair to say that the subject of motor behavior has a fairly chequered past both in terms of its relationship to science and with respect to its function in academic settings. Its traditional role--at least in physical education departments . . .

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