Yerkes-Dodson Law: Being Ready for the Big Game

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As an athlete, I found I could really relate to the information presented by the Yerkes-Dodson Law. The basics of this law are shown in the figure below that plots performance versus arousal level. The inverted "U" shape of the curve suggests that there is a middle level of arousal that results in the highest performance in both simple and complex tasks.

Recently, we had a girl join our soccer team who had been playing only basketball for the past four years. She was a goalkeeper in high school, but now she was preparing to play in her first college-level soccer game. I talked to her briefly before the game, telling her to be not too high and not too low, and immediately realized that I was regurgitating psychology class information to her. I figured if I could get her to be in a medium state of arousal, she would be most likely to have a good performance out on the field.

As Minnesota residents, I bet most of us remember the 2009 Semi-final of the NFL playoffs. This was the game where the Vikings basically had their tickets to the Super Bowl booked, but then Brett Favre threw a game-changing interception. The Y-D Law can be used to explain this. Brett Favre was likely so highly aroused by the high-pressure situation, that his performance was low. Can anybody think of other situations where we can apply this concept?



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As an athlete also, I can resonate with this phenomena. I definitely have noticed in my own experience that when I am aroused I have a tendency to lose focus. On the flip side of that when I am calm on the football field and am having fun, my performance is much higher. I am not sure if I totally agree with the law having two bell curves. I find that arousal doesn't tend to help me on easy tasks. Everything is to a point. I try to find a happy medium and stay calm and collected in all situations.

I definitely apply the Yerkes-Dodson Law a lot to my own life. Whenever I played tennis matches against really good teams, I had to calm myself down otherwise I'd play worse than normal. I totally agree with the two curves of the law because I feel like being too aroused on a difficult task is much more detrimental to performance than on a easy task we've completed before. Overall, very nice blog post!

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This page contains a single entry by brand790 published on April 25, 2012 5:33 PM.

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