He dies, he scores: Evidence that reminders of death motivate improved performance in basketball

Colin A. Zestcott, Uri Lifshin, Peter Helm, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research applied insights from terror management theory (TMT; Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) to the world of sport. According to TMT, self-esteem buffers against the potential for death anxiety. Because sport allows people to attain self-esteem, reminders of death may improve performance in sport. In Study 1, a mortality salience induction led to improved performance in a "one-on-one" basketball game. In Study 2, a subtle death prime led to higher scores on a basketball shooting task, which was associated with increased task-related self-esteem. These results may promote our understanding of sport and provide a novel potential way to improve athletic performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-480
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Volume38
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • Mortality salience
  • Motivation
  • Self-esteem
  • Sport
  • Terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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