Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, March 09, 2009

Slightly behind = more motivation


"Encouraging people to see themselves as behind others, albeit only slightly, should increase motivation."

That's from the conclusion of an academic paper that I read about in the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ reported:

According to their [Jonah Berger and Devin Pope] findings, men's college basketball teams increase their chances of winning by 5.5% to 7.7% if they are behind by a single point at halftime. In fact, if a team goes to the locker room after 20 minutes down by one point, they actually have a 51.3% chance of winning the game.

I think most people recognize what they reported. If you are a little bit behind your competition, you work pretty hard to do better. It is encouraging to be just a little bit behind.

About a year ago I wrote about a study that found a similar effect (more like being far behind is discouraging).

to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


It's the feel of the competition that keeps you moving. Also being first just by some seconds would make you push harder. But being second is even more encouraging. I remember someone saying that although he was number one in the world he always trained as he would be only the second.
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