Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: So as we just completed another heavily promoted media rich weekend sports event the form of the American Super Bowl maybe pause and reflect for a moment on the psychology of teams and sports. Think about big professional sports like football or hockey and think about what you’ve been learning about within your psychology courses. Think about where the points of contact might be between psychology and professional sporting events.

Source: The Hidden Psychology Behind Sports Teams, Coaches, and their Fans, Video interview with Jon Werthein on PBS News

Date: February 5, 2016

Sports Brain

Photo Credit: Jon Wertheim

Links: Video Link

Professional sports and especially the media coverage of professional sports is full of terms that seem to reflect a rich psychology. Phrases like get your head in the game, get psyched up, psych out your opponents, motivate your players, are just a few of the many references to psychologically sounding concepts and ideas. There’s no doubt that there is a lot of psychology and sports certainly over the last several decades has been a huge increase in the roles played by psychologists or by psychological training for coaches in the development of athletes at every level of performance from the Junior levels right up to Olympic levels of performance. It can be an interesting exercise to pause and think the next time you hear a “psychology” comment statement or theory raised by a sports commentator to see if you can identify the areas or theories within psychology that are either being drawn upon or simply naively referred to by the commentator. Of course is also a lot of psychology within the breathlessly anticipated array of ads produce specifically for showing during the Super Bowl, but that’s a whole other matter.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the areas that Jon Wertheim indicated reflect what he refers to as an “hidden” psychology within professional sports?
  2. What areas or theories within psychology might actually match some of the areas that Jon Wertheim mentioned in his references to “hidden” psychology within sports?
  3. See if you can identify, either through web search or psychology database search one or two areas where psychology does speak directly to some aspect of professional sports, weather be related to athlete performance, fan behaviour, or other aspects of the game?

References (Read Further):

Jon Wertheim’s Sports Illustrated Brain of Sports Podcast Archives

Dosseville, F., Edoh, K. P., & Molinaro, C. (2015). Sports officials in home advantage phenomenon: A new framework. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1-5.


Rees, T., Haslam, S. A., Coffee, P., & Lavallee, D. (2015). A social identity approach to sport psychology: Principles, practice, and prospects. Sports Medicine, 45(8), 1083-1096.