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ChrisD

Ironic Effects

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Part of the Prof's web page:

Quote

Dr Tim Woodman, Co-Director of IPEP, explains:

“Ironic errors can happen to sports men and women under stress. The things you want to do demand working memory space from your brain. This is called the operating process; this process allows us to focus on what we want to do but it does require some effort and we have to consciously focus on doing these things (e.g., aim at the bottom corner in a football penalty).. The things you don’t want to do are taken care of by the monitoring process; this process keeps an eye out to make sure that we don’t do what we don’t want to do; in everyday life we don’t have to think about these things.

When we are not under stress, these two processes work very well together and we are able to do what we want to do. When we are under stress, however, our anxiety takes up some working memory. This depletes the operating process which focuses on what we want, and makes the monitoring process more likely to emerge. In this way, the process that normally prevents us from doing those things we don’t want to do is actually responsible for us doing precisely those things when we really don’t want to do them; that is the irony.



To some degree, the idea is trivial: If you do what you were trying to avoid doing, that's just called "failure". But their point is that if someone emphasizes avoiding one particular type of error out of different errors that could occur, that one type of error should actually become more likely.

It does sound like a valid area of research though, especially if they have a hypothesis about specific mechanisms for an error to occur.

It also appears that "Ironic Error" is a term developed at that university, so it hasn't necessarily received broad usage or acceptance.

I haven't looked into the effect and can't offer any insight into the amount of evidence for the effect, or about the construct of having an operating and monitoring process. The youtube video is from 2012 and it appears that research is ongoing.

It sounds like they are looking into some sort of 'priming' effects -- there's plenty of that effect noted in psychology, where having one idea introduced might subtly influence behaviour during another subsequent task.

So their theory seems to include the following: Say you want to kick a ball into the corner of the net, but are reminded "Don't kick the ball too wide!". Then if you are unable to focus entirely on the task at hand, that idea of kicking the ball too wide might impair performance and lead to a greater chance of kicking the ball wide. In the video they mention eye tracking experiments to see if the priming might cause someone about to kick a ball to glance further to the side. I suppose they are looking at both the effect of priming, and the influence of stress on that effect.

The topic also seems to relate to the older idea that some talk about, about the benefits of visualizing an upcoming task in a positive way, focusing on the right things to do and not the wrong things to do. Again, I can't comment on what the current understanding is about that claim. I certainly don't like to see too much use of that concept, as it takes away from the ability to examine dangers and think through ways of dealing with situations outside of the perfect plan. Perhaps the negatives are needed, but in the final mental rehearsal, only the positive version is needed to prime the mind for the task.

There is one problem though: Is the Ironic Error supposed to happen only when the priming is negative (e.g., "I tend to hit the golf ball short. Don't hit it too short!!"), or also if the priming is positive (e.g., "I will make sure to hit the ball harder than usual!")? That's not made clear in the little bit I have seen so far on line by the university group. E.g, if the monitoring process takes more hold of one's actions when under stress, that would suggest the notion of 'Hit the ball harder' would come to the fore, and one would actually get better under more stress. That is counter to what they are saying. There are large gaps in some of of short descriptions online, about what they are expecting to observe.

I did see the abstract to one paper from that Prof, where during a golf putt competition where negative priming was used, it was only those people who had a certain 'repressor' coping style had a statistically significant increase in their Ironic Error -- "This suggests that the act of repressing anxiety has a detrimental performance effect."

Further study would be needed to have better informed opinions.

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I love reading your stuff:)
I was trying to keep it simple and you hade to introduce "Negative Priming." But I'm not sure as you point out if the topic is, concerning negative priming given the example you used , isn't more akin to positive reinforcement, or something that needs reinforcing as a performance enhancer. (With the example of hitting the ball harder.)

The negative priming thing they are doing by suggesting that the ball will go out of bounds (This is a guess.) as or shortly before the task is performed is a great example of your negative priming. I would like to know more how they are negatively priming the test subjects. Are they yelling at them shortly before they kick the ball. Do they have the participant read something about missing the ball, like a Casey at bat poem, striking out? Do they have the subject watch a video of kids constantly missing the net??

Which is why we don't use "Pink Elephants" in teaching and only concentrate on the things that have worked, and worked well.

It would be interesting to know the "effect size" of this psych phenomenon.

I introduce pink elephants all the time, I wish I didn't but they sneek in from time to time. It would really be nice to know just how much damage this causes to a student in an action or performance activity.

Like at a little League baseball game when the opposing side starts screaming "Miss, Miss, or batter batter drop the bat,.." or what effect the same has on professional baseball players in a large stadium?

The recent U-tube fatal where the hapless person cut away purportedly because people on the ground yelled "cut away...." or whatever they yelled, could be considered a really large "effect size" effect. but I don't see many pro baseball players being too affected by the crowds, this might be a small effect size?

Raises a lot of questions don't it?


Thanks man!!!

C

:)
I really do appreciate your thought on positive visualization!!! And as you point out what I call the effects of displacement is the fact that I think it is a perfectly valid argument in skydiving that if in fact we spend too much time practicing positive visualization what does this say about practicing our EP's in the event the unplanned, as you point out, does happen? And we are hesitant to remind anybody of their EP's because we are spending so much time practicing on the "positive," and neglecting the other? Visualizing a positive outcome practicing EP's or any eventuality is using the same sort of psych mechanisms as positive thinking. Is this making sense?
But what do I know, "I only have one tandem jump."

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Seems similar to the effect of target fixation.
Or negative reinforcements.


Working with the sorts of kids I do one of our primary methods of encouragement is to focus on what to DO and not focus on what NOT to do.
The theory behind the positive reinforcements has been around for a very long time.
I see this as an offshoot of that.
You are not now, nor will you ever be, good enough to not die in this sport (Sparky)
My Life ROCKS!
How's yours doing?

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Squeak

Seems similar to the effect of target fixation.
Or negative reinforcements.


Working with the sorts of kids I do one of our primary methods of encouragement is to focus on what to DO and not focus on what NOT to do.
The theory behind the positive reinforcements has been around for a very long time.
I see this as an offshoot of that.



Somebody ask the OP if they are getting any response? :S



:)
You might also want to check out using affirmations or frequently the term Positive Expectations are used as well, thanks for the reminder Squeak!

C

At this point I hope the folks in Wales are monitoring our forum here. They seem legitimately interested in increasing performance and understanding stress and all of those interplays. Certainly enough stress here sometimes :)
But what do I know, "I only have one tandem jump."

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If there was anything to this many skydivers would be dead right away.

I guess I am too old and too simple to go for such ideas. I live in a world where if you don't want to get electrocuted, you avoid hot lines.....don't want burned, stay out of the fire. If you are serious about not getting hurt/dead, your "monitoring process" needs to work....end of story.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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dthames

If there was anything to this many skydivers would be dead right away.

I guess I am too old and too simple to go for such ideas. I live in a world where if you don't want to get electrocuted, you avoid hot lines.....don't want burned, stay out of the fire. If you are serious about not getting hurt/dead, your "monitoring process" needs to work....end of story.



Stress effects people in many different ways.
Our sport, in general, attracts people who do at least moderately well under stress. At least those who stay in the sport.
You are not now, nor will you ever be, good enough to not die in this sport (Sparky)
My Life ROCKS!
How's yours doing?

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Squeak

***If there was anything to this many skydivers would be dead right away.

I guess I am too old and too simple to go for such ideas. I live in a world where if you don't want to get electrocuted, you avoid hot lines.....don't want burned, stay out of the fire. If you are serious about not getting hurt/dead, your "monitoring process" needs to work....end of story.



Stress effects people in many different ways.
Our sport, in general, attracts people who do at least moderately well under stress. At least those who stay in the sport.

Hey do you guy's remember the last time we had a research thing here, about cortisol?

And the poor researcher called some individuals with about 30 jumps: Experienced? :S

that is an example of a fatal confound or at best a real Extraneous Variable.

Cause I have more than a few jumps and more than a few years and this stress thing has me baffled. Don't get me wrong, there are days that I have very little patience with those types that are rock climbing one day and bungee jumpin the next, and then just moving on to the next adrenaline rush. I think this is why so many uninformed researchers and their students come here is because of that stereotype that these stress junkies have created!
Jumping and stress, for them go hand in and in their eye these topics are inseparable.

Personally I have in fact fallen asleep on more than a few long drawn out rides to altitude. I look forward to jumpin for a day with my friends, yes,... I have a few friends. I frequently find the whole time relaxing and jumping is something I do to relieve stress. :)
As many of us do!

And YA length of time in the sport should be a huge consideration, but of recent epoch the size of a mans junk is inversely proportional to the size of his canopy, or do I have that backwards?

at least you have said a mouthful when you point out there is a difference between those that stay and others....


Here's' a call out to dthames , :)
"If there was anything to this many skydivers would be dead right away."

This has to do a lot with effect size, and the amount of cognitive load at the time of whatever it is that we are speaking about at the time.

Boy have you said something that seems innocuous and is really a very loaded observation.

The biggest issue is this:

Is the information that is in fact in your brain available at the time you need it?

We have so many people spouting shit here and at any DZ that when you question them they get very belligerent about their knowledge and their assumptions about the knowledge of others.

I and you and everyone can remember and recite back a prodigious amount of information sitting on the ground or riding in the aircraft. But when the shit hits the fan or your
under an enormous cognitive load your ability to recall anything drops to ZERO, and the amount (frequency and quantity) of information that you can recall goes to ZERO, and if that isn't enough your quality of the information you can recall goes to shit!

So in fact as dthames is roundly pointing out yes in fact this is responsible for a few "dead right away(s)." And much to his credit and I don't think this is intentional he points out for him much of this isn't an issue and ya want to know what research would say about that?

It says dthames is spot on!

There may in fact be big personality , measurable, quantifiable differences between those survivors that have a no problem attitude, basically "I'm going to die if I have a malfunction," as compared to those that have a "it can't happen to me, cause of X or Y and I'm an anxious type of person that is quick, and I have the experience to handle anything that comes my way."

On one hand the perceived relaxed person may in fact be thought of as a danger but the ironic reality is that that individual may in fact be relaxed enough in emergencies that information may be more readily available to them!

C

Reminds me of what some call the Sargent York Effect. Did it take enormous strength, courage and indefatigable fortitude to stand up or did he just resign himself that he was dead anyways.... ?
But what do I know, "I only have one tandem jump."

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Quote

But when the shit hits the fan or your
under an enormous cognitive load your ability to recall anything drops to ZERO, and the amount (frequency and quantity) of information that you can recall goes to ZERO, and if that isn't enough your quality of the information you can recall goes to shit!



In a very honest discussion I would say, “I don’t really know”…..about a lot of things.

Looking back on several events in my life when I was in trouble and had the clear thought of “Not recoverable, or your doomed”, I continued to work the problem and had successful results. I do know that if I am about to hit something or someone, I am certainly going to focus on not hitting them. I can’t imagine a thought process like, “If I think I don’t want to hit them, then I am more likely to hit them, so I will think about going over there and maybe then I will be in my happy place…..(and not hit them)”. No! It is more like, “Resolve this somehow some way and don’t stop because it looks hopeless”.

I think Sargent York had a special "peace" about him.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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ChrisD



We have so many people spouting shit here and at any DZ that when you question them they get very belligerent about their knowledge and their assumptions about the knowledge of others.

finally, something we can agree on.
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

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