Essential Reads

Trying to Explain the Inexplicable

By Gary Smith Ph.D. on September 23, 2016 in What the Luck?
We are tempted to look for psychological explanations for successes and failures, when the more convincing explanation is simply that people get lucky—and luck is fleeting.

View Concussion as a “Brain Sprain”

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on September 20, 2016 in Brain Trauma
Defining concussions gets a variety of answers, so neurologist Harry Kerasidis outlines the brain injury and symptoms, by comparing it to the common ankle sprain.

Why Louisiana Defendants Say, "Geaux Tigers!"

Two economists suggest a surprising source of racial bias in juvenile sentencing.

Who Am I? Someone? Or Nobody?

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on August 24, 2016 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
Celebrity is competitive. The outrageously competitive have no limits on what they do to get noticed. Winning often means being a bigger jerk than anyone else is willing to be.

More Posts on Sport and Competition

Optimism and Anxiety Change the Structure of Your Brain

By Christopher Bergland on September 23, 2015 in The Athlete's Way
Neuroscientists have identified that adults who have a larger orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) tend to be more optimistic and less anxious.

The Day I Played Against Yogi Berra, and He Let Me Win

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on September 23, 2015 in Living Single
Many years ago, George Plimpton chose me to play on his team of fans. We took on the Mickey Mantle All-Stars in Yankee Stadium, and Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra and the rest of the team let us win.

Countering Sad Athlete Syndrome

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on September 20, 2015 in How To Do Life
Many athletes are plagued by worry.

WOSPs, Unstructured Play, and Intrinsic Motivation

By John Tauer Ph.D. on September 19, 2015 in Goal Posts
Why don't we see children playing on playgrounds in the absence of adults?

Champion Novak Djokovic Reveals the Power of Visualization

By Aldo Civico Ph.D. on September 17, 2015 in Turning Point
How world-class player Novak Djokovic trains for mental toughness using mindfulness and visualization.
Mick Fanning

You Won’t Find Athletic Success Without "The Grind"

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on September 16, 2015 in The Power of Prime
No matter how much you love your sport and no matter how much fun it is in general, you have to admit that there are many specific aspects of being an athlete that are definitely not fun, especially the physical conditioning. I’m thinking of those cold early morning runs, those workouts in the rain or in the blazing heat of summer, those multiple sets of weights.

Do Tennis Champions Reveal the Secret to Mental Toughness?

The study from Middle Tennessee State University also found that the coaches rating of their tennis players' mental toughness bore no relationship to the athletes' own assessment. The coaches seemed to be basing their assessment of mental toughness of their players on their general results and rankings — yet this may be misleading.

The Psychology of a Champion

By Ryan Anderson on September 14, 2015 in The Mating Game
He may have lost the U.S. Open Final, but there are many reasons why Roger Federer is a champion.

Do You Have a Competition Mental Model?

By Elizabeth R Thornton on September 13, 2015 in The Objective Leader
Are you in competition with everyone else? Can you be effective leader with the Competition mental model?

The Dark Side of Mythic Quests and the Spirit of Adventure

By Christopher Bergland on September 12, 2015 in The Athlete's Way
My pursuit for otherworldly peak experience through athletics was glorious but it also almost killed me. When I saw the trailer for the upcoming Everest movie, it reminded me of the importance of returning home alive after any mythic quest.

Is Heroism a 'Guy Thing?'

By Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. on September 11, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
We hold heroes in such high esteem because they act in a noble and virtuous manner, setting aside any thoughts of their own well being for the good of others. Or do they? It turns out that heroism, especially in time of war, positions men (but not women) for high status and enhanced mating opportunities if they survive the heroic action.

The Sports Ethic

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on September 11, 2015 in A Sideways View
What are the unique beliefs and values of those in competitive sport?

Will the Obama Girls Stay Up Late for Miss America 2016?

By Hilary Levey Friedman Ph.D. on September 10, 2015 in Playing to Win
What does Vanessa Williams' return to the Miss America Pageant say about our changing society?
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Developing a Science of Interrogation

By The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues on September 10, 2015 in Sound Science, Sound Policy
The most effective interrogation techniques are those that emphasize cooperation and relationship building. Confrontation is far less effective.

Laird Hamilton and the Art of Surfing

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on September 10, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Laird Hamilton, who is often considered one of the greatest athletes in the world, shares how intrinsic motivation and sense of purpose drive him to continued achievement.

What We've Got Wrong With the K-State Marching Band Story

By Kimberly Sena Moore Ph.D. on September 08, 2015 in Your Musical Self
The Kansas State University marching band director is in hot water following this weekend’s halftime performance. However, this 3-second segment is taken out of context. With the drill in motion, the announcement, and the music it all makes sense. So who are the real losers in this story?

Why Roger Federer Is Great

By Stanton Peele on September 08, 2015 in Addiction in Society
Roger Federer has remained at the very top of an individual professional sport, tennis, through his mid-thirties. What about him allows him to do this, and what can we learn from it?

We Study Play Because Life is Hard

By Bernard L. De Koven on September 08, 2015 in On Having Fun
Allow me to introduce you to a friend and scholar who recently passed away. He was an inspiration to me and so many people who have come to believe that play is an important part of life.

Bike Helmet Laws and the Law of Unintended Consequences

By Steve Stewart-Williams on September 07, 2015 in The Nature-Nurture-Nietzsche Blog
Bicycle helmet laws reduce head injuries - because they put kids off riding their bikes.

5 Lessons I Learned From Trying Paddleboard Yoga

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on September 06, 2015 in Urban Survival
Getting bored of your usual yoga routine? Try paddleboard yoga and get over the fear of falling.

Parental Participation Prizes

By Hilary Levey Friedman Ph.D. on September 03, 2015 in Playing to Win
Everyone has an opinion on participation trophies, but here is some practical advice for parents and coaches for the fall season.

Superfluidity: Decoding the Enigma of Cognitive Flexibility

By Christopher Bergland on September 02, 2015 in The Athlete's Way
Brain researchers have developed new tools for predicting levels of cognitive flexibility and "superfluidity" of thought.
people.com

How Trump Trumps Pressure

By Hendrie Weisinger Ph.D. on August 28, 2015 in Thicken Your Skin
What do Tom Brady and Donald Trump have in common?

Loving Competition

By Bernard L. De Koven on August 26, 2015 in On Having Fun
Of all the spaces in which we find each other, this space, the space between, the moment lightly held, where we face each other freely, is where the play is deepest.
Doctor Yum

When Should Your Young Athlete Specialize?

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on August 24, 2015 in The Power of Prime
This question torments every parent who wants to support their children’s efforts as they pursue their own personal greatness in a sport. If you want your kids to stay healthy, stay motivated, and perform better, the experts and the research say that multisport participation is the way to go. But the messages from our culture tell parents something very different.

One Reason Being a Perfectionist Isn’t All Bad

By Christopher Bergland on August 22, 2015 in The Athlete's Way
Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist? New research identifies how various forms of perfectionism can have a bright side and a dark side.

This Is Your Brain On College Football

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 21, 2015 in Obesely Speaking
Beyond Social Tribalism, BIRGing, CORFing, and Tailgating - the brain needs its football.

5 Lessons From Informal Sports

By Bernard L. De Koven on August 20, 2015 in On Having Fun
“Real life is an informal game. The rules are endlessly modifiable and you must do your part to create them. In the end, there are no winners or losers; we all wind up in the same place." - Peter Gray

The Imagery Edge--Part I

Imagery is one of the key psychological skills for optimal performance. In this story, a tennis player develops images to help cope with post-surgical pain.

America's Infatuation with Jim Harbaugh

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 16, 2015 in Obesely Speaking
While other college coaches are busy strategizing to win football games, Jim Harbaugh is conquering a nation without trying.