Shaping Decisions in Sport: Affordances and Social, Neural, and Physiological Constraints on Action.

A talk at 13th FEPSAC European Congress of Sport Psychology July 2011 on Madeira, Portugal.

Decision-making is relevant in instances where an individual athlete needs to reach an individual solution, such as when taking a penalty kick in football or avoiding an opponent in rugby. In other situations multiple athletes simultaneously make decisions to reach common goals. There are different levels of analysis at which decision-making in multi-agent systems in sport is studied. Typically, decision-making is examined at the level of the individual athlete. In view of theoretical as well as practical relevance the study of decision-making must take a systems perspective. Further, we suggest that affordances dynamically shape decisions; that is, the emergence of decisions depends on perception and action with reference to the action possibilities of an athlete in its sport specific environment. The study of decision-making in sports should therefor take into account the perceptuo-motor constraints that shape affordances. Due to their social, neural, and physiological nature, the relationship between athletes and their sports environment is highly dynamic. With an aim to develop a framework that contributes to theories on decision-making (in sport) as well as to athlete centred practice in our talk we discussed relevant theoretical and methodological ideas that emerge from a growing body of literature in the behavioural neurosciences, cognitive affective neurosciences, and neuro-economics.

Gert-Jan Pepping is a consultant, researcher, and senior lecturer in Psychology of Human Movement and Sport at the School of Exercise Sciences of ACU, Brisbane.

Posted in Dynamical Systems, Ecological Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Joint Action, My own research, Sport Science

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