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Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post

Well, not in Madden...

In a study of 23 non-football athletes who each kicked 10 field goals, researchers found that players’ performance directly affected their perception of the size of the goal: After a series of missed kicks, athletes perceived the post to be taller and more narrow than before, while successful kicks made the post appear larger-than-life.

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14 comments, Last at 22 Oct 2009, 5:27pm

1 Re: Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post

Ok ... there was something similar to this in golf a couple of years ago ... successful putters see the hole as bigger ... they seem to mention that stuff later on.

Looks like a good study with the adjustable goalposts being used to test the perception.

2 Re: Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post

Not so sure about that:
The players’ pre-performance estimations didn’t correlate at all with their subsequent success rate. But after 10 field goal attempts, their perceived goal size was highly correlated with peformance.

There are 23 participants, and, from my reading, they adjust the model posts before and after kicking--or 46 events. This is the definition of small sample size. I wouldn't read to much in to this.

4 Re: Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post

Everybody has experienced this in one way or another. When you're on a hot streak shooting pool, the pockets just seem wide open. But when you've been missing a few, those corners of the bumpers always seems more protrusive.

7 Re: Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post

I saw that headline to mean that the brain helps you prepare for the next kick by giving you a smaller target. But I haven't actually read the article.

14 Re: Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post

Speaking anecdotally - as a 28-year old man who has been turned down by every woman he's ever talked to - I can tell you that it's definitely true. I've reached a point where I cannot logically comprehend the idea that one would ever say yes so I don't even try. Might as well see if I can jump high enough to reach the sun, it's just as impossible in my mind.

(And no I'm not kidding. Anonymity gives me the confidence to share my humiliation for the sake of understanding.)

11 Re: Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post

This general idea goes back to Gibson (or Aristotle depending on how much you read between his lines). Your visual system is not trying to create a veridical map of your environment; it is creating a mental model for your possible behavior in that environment. So, loosely, if kicking a ball through the post is easy it will be represented in your visual model as easy. By the same token, snow covered hills look less steep to skiers than to non-skiers when they are standing at the top, but not from the bottom and not with non-snow-covered hills.