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Ruud den Hartigh: will you run faster when someone passes you?

Will you run faster when someone passes you?

People who are unsatisfied with their own bodies often look at the body parts that they find ugly. For this, we developed positive mirror exposure: a treatment during which people are exposed to seeing their body in a mirror for long periods of time. With the aid of a therapist, they learn to focus on the parts of their body that they like, and to talk about them in a positive, non-judgmental way.

Ruud den Hartigh

Is that how it works in sports though? Most scientists ignore the process of the competition, while the most interesting information may be found precisely in that process. Our research, in which we closely examine athletes’ efforts and mental changes from one moment to the next, shows, for example, that athletes often first try to catch up and only give up when they are too far behind. In addition, we see that the results of previous competitions are reflected in future competitions. For athletes who have lost a number of competitions in a row, the effort and confidence decrease faster if the opponent had passed them, compared to athletes who had won the previous competitions.

So, will you run faster if someone passes you? Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. An important part of the answer lies in the course of the competition and in the previous competitions.

dr. J.R. (Ruud) den Hartigh
First name
Associate Professor Talent Development & Creativity
talent development, sport psychology, complex systems, psychological momentum, resilience
Last modified:03 September 2019 11.38 a.m.
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