Would using Tiger Woods’ clubs make you a better golfer?

Probably. It’s called “positive contagion” and appears to be similar to the placebo effect:

Many amateur athletes believe that using a professional athlete’s equipment can improve their performance. Such equipment can be said to be affected with positive contagion, which refers to the belief of transference of beneficial properties between animate persons/objects to previously neutral objects. In this experiment, positive contagion was induced by telling participants in one group that a putter previously belonged to a professional golfer. The effect of positive contagion was examined for perception and performance in a golf putting task. Individuals who believed they were using the professional golfer’s putter perceived the size of the golf hole to be larger than golfers without such a belief and also had better performance, sinking more putts. These results provide empirical support for anecdotes, which allege that using objects with positive contagion can improve performance, and further suggest perception can be modulated by positive contagion.

Source: “Putting Like a Pro: The Role of Positive Contagion in Golf Performance and Perception. PLoS ONE 6(10): e26016.

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