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Goals Impact Feelings After Win/Loss

Are there factors that can predetermine how strongly you feel a loss? Maybe if you or your team were rumored to win. Maybe if the loss breaks a winning streak. And maybe, a new study published in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology says, if your goals from the outset were to keep others from outperforming you.sports-injury-free-play-matthew-boes

The study, published earlier this month, set out to determine how the goals a player sets prior to competition can affect the amount of shame or pride they feel after either winning or losing. What the study found may not completely surprise you, but it can serve as a reminder that the satisfaction a player takes from a win or loss is greatly affected by their outlook before the game even begins.

  • The study asked more than 50 students to play 24 rounds of Tetris.

  • Participants were informed of the criteria for earning a point, which was changed prior to each round.

  • Participants were then asked to rate their feelings of shame and pride.

The study found that a person’s motivation in a game (i.e., prevent being outperformed by others v. outperform others) greatly impacts the amount of shame or pride they feel upon winning or losing. Those who were instructed to outperform others felt more shame when they lost. Those asked to prevent being outperformed by others felt more pride if they won. These feelings also determined whether or not a person wanted to continue playing or stop altogether.

Researchers who lead the study encouraged athletes to “focus on what they can achieve, and not what they have to lose.”

Matthew T. Boes, orthopaedic surgeon, knows that maintaining a good attitude and positive outlook is all part of the game!

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