Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 263–269 | Cite as

Differential reactions of virtual actors and observers to the triggering and interruption of psychological momentum

  • Walid BrikiEmail author
  • Julie Doron
  • Keith D. Markman
  • Ruud J. R. Den Hartigh
  • Christophe Gernigon
Original Paper


The present study compared virtual actors’ and observers’ perceptions of positive and negative psychological momentum (PM) and their responses to sudden interruptions of momentum. Participants with experience playing competitive table tennis imagined that they were playing a table tennis game (virtual actors), whereas participants who lacked experience playing competitive table tennis imagined that they were observing a table tennis game (observers). While viewing an audiovisual simulation of a table tennis match, participants were exposed to either an ascending (i.e., positive momentum) or descending (i.e., negative momentum) scoring sequence that was either suddenly interrupted or not interrupted at all. Participants’ PM perceptions were measured at the conclusion of the simulation. Results indicated that observers’ PM perceptions were lower than were virtual actors’ following the negative momentum sequence. More generally, interrupting positive momentum lowered PM perceptions, whereas interrupting negative momentum increased PM perceptions. Implications for the study of PM in sport are discussed.


Actors Inertia Observers Pathetic fallacy Performance 



We are grateful to Dorothée Beck, Nidhal M’Saad, and Anthony Sanchez for their technical assistance, Cedric Rouleau for his table tennis specific information, and the table tennis players and students who kindly offered to participate in this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walid Briki
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julie Doron
    • 2
  • Keith D. Markman
    • 3
  • Ruud J. R. Den Hartigh
    • 1
    • 4
  • Christophe Gernigon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sport and Physical Education SciencesSouthern France Montpellier UniversityMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Department of Sport and Physical Education SciencesParis-East Créteil UniversityParisFrance
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyOhio UniversityAthensUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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