A new study on a group of basketball players has found they played better if they thought about death before taking to the court.
Researchers say their findings indicate that thoughts of mortality could be used as a powerful motivator, not just for sports but for many different performance-related activities.
The study, published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, sought to investigate the effects of Terror Management Theory.
Study co-leader Uri Lifshin of the University of Arizona told Medical News Today: “Terror management theory talks about striving for self-esteem and why we want to accomplish things in our lives and be successful. Everybody has their own thing in which they invest that is their legacy and symbolic immortality.”
“Your subconscious tries to find ways to defeat death, to make death not a problem, and the solution is self-esteem. Self-esteem gives you a feeling that you’re part of something bigger, that you have a chance for immortality, that you have meaning, that you’re not just a sack of meat.”
In one experiment, researchers asked basketball players to complete one of two questionnaires before playing a short game of one-on-one basketball. One of the questionnaires asked them about their feelings about death, and the other asked about their feelings about basketball.
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