Praise and Criticism: Effects on Athletic Performance
Andrea Moir, Olivia Fast
Point Grey
Floor Location : J 019 H

For our experiment, we wanted to find out how praise, criticism or no comments can affect athletic performance. The inspiration for this topic came from our involvement in sports and consequently our exposure to various forms of feedback. This led us to wonder which method was most effective. Our hypothesis states that by giving students praise, they will perform better than if given criticism because distractions and negative comments drain mental energy. To test our hypothesis, we had three groups sprint equal short distances, one person at a time, timing each run. After every group member had completed their first test, the entire group received a pre-determined feedback and time to rest. A second test followed to observe the effects of the feedback. The sole material used in our experiment was a stopwatch to time the runners. In the researching process, we made use of two sources: the internet and a professional in the field of psychology. We also attempted to gather information through books on psychology, but found that our topic was quite specific and not covered in any of these. Our data indicated that different people respond differently to the forms of feedback. Our graphs showed that on a whole, most groups did better on their first tests. The praise groups had the fastest times and the criticism groups had the slowest times. We found out that praising participants makes them perform better, therefore our hypothesis was correct. We came across numerous sources of error; however the most prominent was the issue of our lack of authority over the students we were testing. Based on our experiment, praise, for the most part, will cause athletes to perform better because of an increase in effort and criticism will cause them to perform worse because of a decrease in effort although certain people may be driven by it. Essentially, this experiment makes the world a better place because coaches will be better educated in terms of how to motivate their athletes to make them perform to their best potential.