Performance Psychology in the Performing Arts

Sanna M. Nordin-Bates

in The Oxford Handbook of Sport and Performance Psychology

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199731763
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Performance Psychology in the Performing Arts


In this chapter, a wide range of performance psychology–related topics are considered in relation to the performing arts. Existing research with musicians, dancers and, to a smaller extent, actors is reviewed and contrasted with sport research within a tripartite structure. In the first section, Exploring Convergence, topics with largely similar research results to sport are considered. These include expertise, talent, and deliberate practice; motivation; flow; perfectionism; disordered eating; and injury and pain. In the second section, Exploring Divergence, topics that have been tackled differently in the performing arts and sports are considered. These include psychological skills; personality; anxiety, stress, and coping; and self-confidence and self-esteem. In a third and final section, Exploring Novelty, topics that appear promising for an emerging psychology of performing arts, yet which have less precedent in sport research, are outlined. These comprise creativity and inspiration; memorization; emotional expression; and audience research.

Keywords: Dance; music; theater; acting; performing arts; artistry; psychology

Article.  26848 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology

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