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Jakten på koncentration - Från teori till idrott
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Psychology.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The quest for concentration – from theory to sport. (English)
Abstract [en]

When athletes and coaches discuss reasons for success or failure the word concentration has an important role. Likewise, in sport research, the term attention tends to have the same central position. This notion gives the impression that everyone seems to know what concentration is and how it affects sport performances. However, the many theories in cognitive psychology are not primarily designed to be applied in the setting of sport and exercise, and thus have little or no validity in that field. Instead of applying scientific knowledge, the field of sport enhancement often utilizes myths and folklore as bases for practice and exercise.

This thesis started as a quest for this well-known concentration and often required state of mind. The overarching purpose of this hunt was to discover aspects that influence the ability of concentration in sport and exercise settings. The aim was to examine the usefulness of cognitive psychology and scientific methods in the field of sports. The search for concentration has follows three tracks. The first line of investigation was to study variations in concentration. The second path was to validate the Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS), (Nideffer, 1976). The third trail was to review the theory of ironic processing in mental control (Wegner, 1992) and try out its applications on sport performances movements.

The search of variations in concentration was carried out through interviewing and measuring heart rate of athletes from golf, pistol shooting, basketball, tennis, and handball. The results showed that the concentration vary within and between sports and athletes. The validation of TAIS was performed on a sample of 1230 athletes from different sports. The result confirms that the basic theory of TAIS not was adequate to explain the functions of attention on the basis of modern theories of cognition. TAIS did not manage to differentiate between different level of skills and between different sports. The original subscales of TAIS were not validated by a factor analysis. The application of ironic processing in sport settings was examined in a series of six studies. The result of these studies showed no support of any impact of ironic processing.

The overall conclusions of the quest for the covet concentration in sport settings can be summarized in one word, variation. It is difficult to consider the notion of general concentration in sports settings because of great differences within and between sports and individuals. These results cast doubt on the efficiency of universal concentration improving techniques. The review of theories of cognitive psychology showed that many modern theories are conspicuous by one's absence in the field of sport psychology. Perhaps the improvements in the sport arenas could be faster if the knowledge of cognitive psychology was better.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Psykologi , 2005. , 346 p.
Keyword [en]
Concentration, attention, Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS), ironic processing, sport psychology,
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-664ISBN: 91-7305-969-2OAI: diva2:144166
Public defence
2005-11-04, Bt 102, Beteendevetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2005-12-22 Created: 2005-12-22Bibliographically approved

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