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The Impact of Priming on Speed Reduction on a Ski Slope


We tested a field-adapted priming procedure (a technique used to subtly activate mental representations and guide behavior) on a ski slope, with the goal of reducing risk behavior in winter sports. At cableway stations, skiers were initially exposed eight times to a prevention poster displaying a logo and a “slow down” message. The “slow down” concept was activated on the ski slope by exposing skiers (or not) 10 times to the logo featured on the poster. We used a radar device to measure the skiers’ speed data just before a slope intersection. We hypothesized that the mean speed would be lower in the presence of the logo than in its absence. As predicted, the speed was lower (by 0.9 km/h) when the skiers had been primed (i.e., exposed to the logo). This decrease was relevant, since any reduction in speed downhill will reduce kinetic (impact) energy and thus the risk of injury in a collision. The effect of priming was statistically significant at noon and in the afternoon but not in the morning. Our pilot study is the first to show that a priming procedure can influence the speed of skiers at a dangerous location. Our findings open up new perspectives for the prevention of risk behavior in winter sports.

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This research was funded by the Société des Trois Vallées, the Fédération Nationale de la Sécurité et des Secours sur les Domaines Skiables, and the Assemblée des Pays de Savoie.

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Correspondence to Mathieu Pinelli.

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Pinelli, M., Pellissier, S. & Bry, C. The Impact of Priming on Speed Reduction on a Ski Slope. J Primary Prevent 39, 483–489 (2018).

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