We humans are strange creatures. We see what we expect to see. We have a tendency of seeing things in line with our initial expectations and acting towards our beliefs and preconceptions. This phenomenon is called perceptual confirmation. Several studies emphasize this effect.
But what impact does this have on our attitude?
Our beliefs, expectations and preconceptions of things and behaviour are very closely linked to our attitude. This means that if we have a strong attitude of something, we tend to work towards it. Let's give an example: Everyone of us has experienced stressful situations such as important competitions, a selection process (e.g. for a competition) or presentations in school or work. Challenging situations like these can be frightening, particularly the more unexperienced we are. Reacting negatively on such situations can also have an impact on our physiological states such has an increased pulse, sweating more than usual or trembling. Some of us might have to constantly run to the toilet - whether it's because of a weak bladder or in the worst cases even diarrhea or vomiting (yes - negatively perceived psychological distress can have an impact on these physiological states, too). But as we already know, stress has two faces: we differ between positive eustress and negative distress. Having the right attitude of how to confront challenging situations can help us to better deal with them.
In sports, we generally differentiate between hope for success and fear of failure. Already this slight change of attitude can make a lot of a difference. In how many competitions have you performed well, when you concentrated on your fear of failing? Were you relaxed? Did you enjoy your performance? How well could you handle your physiological arousals? Could you control them? I would almost guarantee that if your attitude towards your performance was rather negative, your performance would have been negative, too. Like the concept of perceptual confirmation says - we rather work towards our negative expectations and fears. We concentrate on the "wrong" thing - on those things that make us weak, may that be our fear of failing or other negative thoughts and beliefs.
On the other hand, there's hope for success. We can never guarantee to really achieve our set goal, to win a competition or perform as we want to. We can always make mistakes or our performance can be influenced by external factors we cannot control. However, hoping for success means we look positively towards our achievement. Achieving our goals successfully is not impossible - we work towards it. Alone such a positive shift of our attitude can make a big difference. Having a positive attitude towards our achievements doesn't mean we have to set unrealistic goals and expect to perform better than we actually are. We should still stay "down-to-earth". But a positive, realistic attitude helps us in a positive way to come closer to where we want to get to. To come back to this human phenomenon of perceptual confirmation - if we have more positive expectations of ourselves and our performances and we actually act towards these beliefs and preconceptions - have a look on what impact it will have on your performance and, in turn, your results! 😉