Can you make yourself more persistent just by looking at a bottle of Gatorade?

Objectives

To examine the role of automatic processes in sport and exercise settings. More specifically, the present studies tested the hypothesis that visual exposure to a sports drink would increase endurance by influencing perceptions of a physically demanding task.

Design

An experimental design was used, such that participants performed a physically demanding task both before and after exposure to either a popular sports drink, or a spring water control condition.

Method

Across three experiments (total N=141), physical endurance was measured using amount of time spent persisting at the task.

Results

Across three experiments, visual exposure to a sports drink, relative to a spring water control condition, led to greater persistence on physical tasks, consistent with the well-known association between sports drinks and endurance. Participants exhibited no awareness of the effect that viewing the sports drink had on their subsequent behavior. The observed effect was partially mediated by challenge construal, such that those exposed to a sports drink were more likely to perceive an achievement task as a positive challenge and this, in turn, led to greater persistence.

Conclusions

Findings provide support for the notion that physical objects can alter athletic performance outside of conscious awareness. Results are discussed in terms of the subtle influence of environmental cues on behavior.

Source: “Exploring the influence of sports drink exposure on physical endurance” from Psychology of Sport and Exercise Volume 9, Issue 6, November 2008, Pages 749-759

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