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Cognitive Bias Mini-Blog #5 - The Spotlight Effect!

What is it?

Colloquially put, “The Spotlight Effect” is the belief that people notice your behavior more than they actually do. It may result in distracting people from the task at hand.

What are the squash specific implications?

There are several simple examples of the Spotlight Effect and it’s potentially limiting effect on squashies. The most obvious time the Spotlight Effect comes into play is when athletes walk on court to play. Frequently less experienced athletes are painfully aware of peers, coaches and spectators and often believe them to be “judging”. Long story short, the odds that the crowd is fixated on your performance is relatively small. Yes, Mom and Dad and Coach, but after that, I’d almost guarantee the majority of your spectators are “in their own worlds”.

A similar situation develops for some athletes who are a little anxious to do their full dynamic warmups, lest people believe them to be foolish. Obviously it’s hard to be a highly dignified gazelle when doing a dynamic warmup and jumping up and down, waving arms and suchlike. However… in truth, no-one cares and the small awkwardness is jumping up and down is more than taken care of by the bigger issue of, well, winning and losing!

How do we solve “the problem”?

Long story short, “awareness”. Practitioners may easily fall for this cognitive bias, and the simple acknowledgement that:

1. many people have this concept jump into their minds

2. it is unlikely that others are aware of us, let alone fixated upon our endeavors

See you on the courts!


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