Psychological Momentum Effects on Affordances of Athletes

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In sports matches, psychological momentum (PM) develops when moving toward or away from a desired outcome, such as the victory. This elicits various psychological and behavioral changes within the athlete. In empirical studies, our research team found positive and negative changes in, amongst others, confidence and effort exertion while athletes moved toward or away from a victory (e.g., Den Hartigh et al., 2014, 2016; Den Hartigh & Gernigon, 2018). Recently, we proceeded by studying whether PM influences athletes’ perception of the environment and the possibilities for action it offers (affordances, see Fajen et al., 2008). We asked participants to make practice putts on a golf course. Subsequently, they were asked to place the ball at their maximum ‘puttable’ distance and to judge the hole size. Next, participants played a match against an opponent, in which the first to take a lead of 5 points would win (they won a point when making the putt or being closest to the hole). The experimenter manipulated the scoring pattern: Participants either came back from a four-point lag to a four-point lead (positive PM), or underwent the opposite scenario (negative PM). Then, participants judged their maximum puttable distance and the hole size again. Results provided first evidence for a PM-affordances link: Relative to the baseline, the judgment of the puttable distance corresponded to 113% during positive PM (95% CI = 97% to 130%) and to 87% (95% CI = 69% to 95%) during negative PM. No significant effects were found for hole-size judgments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventFEPSAC 2019: 15th European Congress of Sport & Exercise Psychology - Münster, Germany
Duration: 15-Jul-201919-Jul-2019


ConferenceFEPSAC 2019


  • sport performance
  • golf
  • perception
  • Action-specific perception

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