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Valeria Gershkovich 1, Dina Urikh 1
  • 1 Saint Petersburg State University, 7/9 Universitetskaya Emb., Saint Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation

The “I Am Losing” Effect in a Simple Sensorimotor Task

2017. Vol. 14. No. 1. P. 178–188 [issue contents]

The article looks into specifics of a sensorimotor skill execution in a competitive pressure situation. It is proposed that the observed deterioration of a learned skill cannot be deemed as a discrete failure: it is better explained as a specific reaction to an erroneous action already committed which in turn leads to further de-automatization and errors. Our participants learned to putt a ball in a hole (playing “Virtual Golf”) by pressing and holding a computer key in order to control the putting distance. Then an online competition in pairs was conducted with the rival’s scores demonstrated to the participant. We measured the aspiration level (AL) of the participants. Groups with low and high AL did not differ significantly at the stage of training, but during competition the group with a high AL was significantly worse than the group with a low AL. We revealed a general frame effect that we called “losing”: when participants with  high AL see a negative score on the scoreboard, they make more errors. We did not see increased performance after hits. We also found errors related to a reactive effect: competition shows an increased share of errors caused by one’s own miss in a previous trial. Not only does the number of errors after misses increase, but also the quality of those errors changes as their magnitude size also increases. There is also a shift in time estimation trend: we may interpret this as an indicator of a change in control.

Citation: Gershkovich V., Urikh D. (2017) The “I Am Losing” Effect in a Simple Sensorimotor Task. Psychology. Journal of Higher School of Economics, 14(1), 178-188 (in Russian)
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