Be Careful What You Read!

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The BBC posted a story on a study on how much exercise younger children were getting. The problem was that many of the kids who participated actually tricked the researchers. They fooled them by attaching their pedometers to their pet dogs, which greatly inflated their scores. This was found out when obese children were not losing any weight despite the high numbers of steps recorded on their pedometers.

This is a great example of why it can be so difficult to do research. Performance related research, outside of a laboratory setting, involves careful checks and balances. In this case, the researcher’s attempted to account for the use of dogs but despite this the data is still altered.

From a personal viewpoint I know when I do any research involving performance psychology I have to be extra careful with my methods. So often I find that participants are not always truthful and saw what they think I want to hear. (Especially younger athletes). And as a reader of various research studies, this situation exemplifies the importance of not only analyzing the results of a study but also the methodology. Understanding how the research was done provides many insights to what the results are saying before you read the discussion. Even if the researcher means to look at one area, their methods may take them down a different path. So as an athlete or a professional take care with what you are reading and if you are doing research be extra careful with how you are doing it.

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Joe Spano

Joe Spano

Sport Psychology Consultant, Adjunct Lecturer
Joe Spano attended Boston University School of Medicine for his Masters degree in Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine with a focus on sport and exercise psychology. He has done consulting work with athletes, teams, and coaches across Northern New England. He has also spoken about the benefits of sport psychology at various conferences to parents, players, and coaches. While completing his PhD in Health Psychology he currently serves as the Sport Psychology Coach with the MAC/ Bollettieri Tennis Academy and Manchester Athletic Club in Manchester, MA.
Joe Spano

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