Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Visual Illusions Can Facilitate Sport Skill Learning

Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Visual Illusions Can Facilitate Sport Skill Learning

Article excerpt

Published online: 15 October 2014

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Witt, Linkenauger, and Proffitt (Psychological Science, 23, 397-399, 2012) demonstrated that golf putting performance was enhanced when the hole was surrounded by small circles, making it look larger, relative to when it was surrounded by large circles, making it look smaller. In the present study, we examined whether practicing putting with small or large surrounding circles would have not only immediate effects on performance, but also longer-lasting effects on motor learning. Two groups of nongolfers practiced putting golf balls to a 10.4-cm circle ("hole")fromadistanceof2m. Small or large circles were projected around the hole during the practice phase. Perception of hole size was affected by the size of the surrounding circles. Also, self-efficacy was higher in the group with the perceived larger hole. One day after practice, participants performed the putting task, but without visual illusions (i.e., a retention test). Putting accuracy in retention was greater for the group that had practiced with the perceived larger hole. These findings suggest that the apparently larger target led to the more effective learning outcome.

Keywords Golf putting · Visual perception · Ebbinghaus illusion · Learning · Self-efficacy

Over the past few years, findings from different lines of research have provided converging evidence that the performer's mindset influences motor skill learning. Specifically, manipulations that enhanced learners' expectancies for performance success or made a task seem less intimidating have been found to facilitate learning. Some of these findings have come from investigations into the effects of different types of feedback. For instance, providing learners with feedback after relatively successful trials rather than less successful trials (unbeknownst to the learner) has been shown to result in more effective learning (e.g., Badami, VaezMousavi, Wulf, & Namazizadeh, 2012; Chiviacowsky & Wulf, 2007;Saemi, Porter, Ghotbi-Varzaneh, Zarghami, & Maleki, 2012). Also, providing individuals with social-comparative information, such as (bogus) average performance scores of others, suggesting that their own performance was superior to that of the average learner, has been found to lead to more effective learning than under control conditions (e.g., Ávila, Chiviacowsky, Wulf, & Lewthwaite, 2012; Lewthwaite & Wulf, 2010; Wulf, Chiviacowsky, & Lewthwaite, 2010, 2012). Setting performance criteria that can be reached relatively easily has also been found to facilitate learning (e.g., Trempe, Sabourin, & Proteau, 2012). Finally, (edited) video feedback that shows the learner's good performances, rather than the actual or average performance, has been demonstrated to be effective for learning (e.g., Clark & Ste-Marie, 2007). What these manipulations have in common is that they increase the performers' perceptions of competence (Badami, VaezMousavi, Wulf, & Namazizadeh, 2011; Saemi, Wulf, Ghotbi-Varzaneh, & Zarghami, 2011) or self-efficacy (Badami et al., 2012; Saemi et al., 2012;Wulfetal.,2012). The positive relation between self-efficacy and motor performance is generally well established (e.g., Feltz, Chow, & Hepler, 2008;fora meta-analysis of 45 studies, see Moritz, Feltz, Fahrbach, & Mack, 2000). Moreover, self-efficacy has been shown to be a mediator of motor learning (e.g., Stevens, Anderson, O'Dwyer, & Williams, 2012), perhaps because high levels of self-efficacy facilitate the adoption of implicit strategies known to promote the development of procedural knowledge (Chauvel et al., 2012; Masters, Poolton, & Maxwell, 2008).

Interestingly, motor performance can even be influenced by beliefs or suggestions that certain devices will aid performance (Lee, Linkenauger, Bakdash, Joy-Gaba, & Proffitt, 2011), by superstition (Damisch, Stoberock, & Mussweiler, 2010), or by visual illusions (Witt, Linkenauger, & Proffitt, 2012). …

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