Cheers vs. Jeers: Effects of Audience Feedback on Individual Athletic Performance

Epting, L. Kimberly; Riggs, Kristen N.; Knowles, Joseph D.; Hanky, John J.
June 2011
North American Journal of Psychology;2011, Vol. 13 Issue 2, p299
Academic Journal
Both athletes and fans believe that audience support (e.g., cheering) is one of the top influences on a team's success, particularly at home when the crowd is predominantly supportive, possibly contributing to reported home-field advantage (Courneya & Carron, 1992). Yet there are few experimental investigations of whether distinctive types of audience feedback have differential effects on athletes' performance of particular sports skills. In this study, college athletes performed a familiar task in their respective sport (pitching, free throw shooting, hitting a golf ball) in front of audiences who cheered, jeered, and remained silent, depending on the assigned condition. Basketball players' free throw performance was unaffected by audience condition, but jeers hurt performance for baseball pitchers, and jeers and cheers resulted in worse performance for golfers. Audiences or fans can impact performance, but impact may depend on sport, the specific sport skill, and specific audience behavior. Implications for understanding the role of audiences and home-field advantage are considered.


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