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“Hold your head high”: the influence of emotional versus neutral nonverbal expressions of dominance and submissiveness in baseball

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Previous research has demonstrated that athletes displaying dominant nonverbal behavior (NVB) are perceived to possess more favorable performance characteristics and are expected to perform better than athletes showing submissive NVB. In the present study we used point light videos of a baseball pitcher displaying dominant, submissive, and neutral NVBs to show that this effect is mainly driven by the submissive condition. No difference between the neutral and the dominant condition was evident, suggesting that it is more important to avoid displaying submissive NVB instead of showing dominant NVB as neutral NVB already seems to lead to the impression that the athlete can handle the situation. The results show that NVBs expressing dominance and submissiveness are important early cues that affect the impression formation process in sport and the expectancy of success of the athlete observing this NVB. In addition, the results indicate, that further information about the ability level of the athlete might diminish this effect. Performance consequences of the effect of NVB are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-311
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Psychology
Volume43
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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