The Head and Shoulders Psychology of Success Project: An Examination of Perceptions of Olympic Athletes

By Wann, Daniel L. | North American Journal of Psychology, March 2012 | Go to article overview

The Head and Shoulders Psychology of Success Project: An Examination of Perceptions of Olympic Athletes


Wann, Daniel L., North American Journal of Psychology


Over the past several decades, research in sport psychology has greatly enhanced our understanding of the affective, behavioral, and cognitive reactions of sport participants. This research has examined participants from many levels of competition including youth sport (Brustad, 1993; Roberts, 1993), recreational participants (Wesch, Law, & Hall, 2007), and elite performers (Vanden Auweele, De Cuyper, Van Mele, & Rzewnicki, 1993). The purpose of the current project was to investigate the psychology of success among Olympians, thus expanding our understanding of these elite athletes. There were four themes targeted in this research: the impact of fan support, perceptions of the home field advantage, the importance of pre-event rituals, and perceptions of attributes that lead to athletic success.

With respect to fan support, one of the earliest studies in sport and social psychology found that audiences play a key role in motor and athletic performance (Davis, Huss, & Becker, 1995; Triplett, 1898). Indeed, a large body of literature now exists detailing the impact of fan and spectator support (Bray & Widmeyer, 2000; Wann, 1997) and it is clear that fans can strongly and with great devotion support their favorite athletes and teams (Wann, Melnick, Russell, & Pease, 2001). For instance, audiences can lead to a social facilitation effect, in which the audience leads to arousal and increases the performer's dominant response (Zajonc, 1965). Consequently, successful athletes tend to perform better in front of an audience while unsuccessful athletes will exhibit a decline in performance. This pattern of effects has been substantiated in sport environments (Davis & Harvey, 1992; Singer, 1965). To extend past work, this research examined athletes' perceptions of three specific aspects of fan support. Specifically, they indicated the extent to which they viewed fans as a source of support, the degree to which they believed fan support had an impact on their performance, and the extent to which they felt that fan support affected their confidence.

The second theme examined athletes' beliefs in the home field advantage. Because spectator support is viewed as a major cause of the home field advantage (Courneya & Carron, 1992), this theme was related to the previous theme examining perceptions of fan support. The home field advantage is one of the most well-documented findings in sport psychology (Carron & Hausenblas, 1998). This phenomenon has been noted in numerous sports and at many levels of competition (Jamieson, 2010), including the Olympic Games (Balmer, Nevill, & Williams, 2001, 2003; Leonard, 1989). However, few studies have investigated athletes' perceptions of the home field advantage. One study that did focus on athlete perceptions of the home advantage was conducted by Bray and Widmeyer (2000). These authors examined the perceptions of female intercollegiate basketball players. The respondents were asked to indicate their beliefs in the influence of several game location factors. The results indicated that home court familiarity, fan support, and travel were all believed to be influential in leading to a home field advantage. While this study was quite informative, the respondents were collegiate players and researchers had yet to investigate the home field advantage perceptions of Olympic athletes. Furthermore, sport scientists had yet to fully investigate strategies athletes use to cope with an opponent's home advantage. The current investigation was designed to fill these research voids.

The third topic involved participants' pre-event rituals. Pre-event rituals can have a beneficial impact on athletic performance and may take many forms, including psychological, behavioral, or even luck-related (Bull, Albinson, & Shambrook, 1996; Murphy & Jowdy, 1992; Wann, 1997). Indeed, many athletes report superstitious pre-event rituals (Neil, 1982), including participants in basketball (Gregory & Petrie, 1975), hockey (Zimmer, 1984), and baseball (Wann, 1997). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Head and Shoulders Psychology of Success Project: An Examination of Perceptions of Olympic Athletes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.