The Yerkes-Dadson Law

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The Yerkes-Dadson Law is defined in the text book as, "inverted U shaped relation between arousal on the one hand, and mood and performance on the other" (429). What this law is getting at is there are two curves, one for simple tasks, and one for complex tasks. Each curve has a relative maximum point, and it is at that maximum point where output optimized. This means that for simple tasks, a higher arousal leads to a better output, and for a more complex task, less arousal leads to better output. For many people this many not translate to everyday life, but when growing up my coaches always tried to get me in the zone to play sports, and in school my teachers would try to get me in the zone for class. I never knew what that zone was. I had always assumed in sports you should be really pumped up, and in school you were expected to be calm and complacent. Due to my new understanding of Yerkes-Dadson Law, I know that each zone is a little bit different. In school, when engaging in large class participation discussions (simple task) it is ok to be a bit more excited, but when it comes to tests ( complex tasks) it is time to calm down and relax. As for sports, depending on what sport you're playing, and what position or role you have there are different levels of arousal to aim for. A quarterback in football, goalie in hockey or soccer, and the pitcher on the baseball team have complex tasks and need to be more relaxed. Whereas a linebacker, lineman, or running back in football or wing in hockey has the ability and leeway be more excited relative to the previous positions. This is important because I hope to coach sports at some level, whether it be my kids someday, or something more competitive. The Yerkes-Dadson Law is something I hope to remember five or more years from now. Does this have any impact on your life, or can anyone relate to this growing up?



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I think concepts like this should be taught at a younger age. I say this because by knowing this type of thing, will tell you how you can be the most productive at what you are trying to accomplish, and being the most productive you can be is a very difficult thing to grasp. Even if you aren't particularly good at one thing, as long as you are in the correct mood to be the best you can be at it will make a substantial difference in how you complete such task.

I really like that you mentioned this rule as related to sports. Sports have always been a big importance in my life and when I read about this law I automatically thought of track. Many girls before track meets would have to go off on their own to calm down and bring themselves back to a normal arousal rate so they could perform properly. Other girls needed to listen to that one song to pump themselves up because they were too calm to be able to perform fast enough. It really is interesting how this law can be put into so many different perspectives and used in so many different situations.

Yeah, me too! I have a really demanding job, and my performance has actually skyrocketed since I learned that a lower arousal state is better at complex tasks. Since I've stopped pounding redbulls before work and stressing out I've been doing so much better!

I never really had thought about how the Yerkes-Dodson law applied to sports. Now that you have mentioned this, I feel like it could be a very important aspect to coaching. I have considered trying to coach teenagers in either tennis or baseball, and having this in mind would allow me to maximize their potential on game day. This law happens to be something that the average person wouldn't think about, or they would happen to think about it in the wrong way. So knowing the truth could make a big impact.

The Yerkes-Dodson law was extremely interesting to me because I have experienced it's effects while playing sports. Consistently coaches or players would come up with something to help pump everyone else up. The pump up varied from a cheer to sniffing smelling salts, which a lot of people did on my football team in high school. I never resorted to the latter, but it is interesting to see scientific proof behind getting pumped up for a game.

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This page contains a single entry by glas0344 published on April 26, 2012 8:22 PM.

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