Conscious and Unconscious Awareness in Learning and Performance

Rich Masters

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

 Conscious and Unconscious Awareness in Learning and Performance

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William James stated that “every hour we make theoretic judgments and emotional reactions, and exhibit practical tendencies, for which we can give no explicit logical justification, but which are good inferences from certain premises. We know more than we can say. Our conclusions run ahead of our power to analyze their grounds” (1890, p. 168). The boundary between what is conscious and what is not conscious is often blurred, clouded by doubt. Never is this more obvious than in sport, where we learn to move and make decisions in the blink of an eye, often with little idea of whether we were even in control of what just happened. The aim of this chapter is to provide insight into the role of human consciousness in learning and performance in sport by synthesizing and contextualizing some of the relevant views of consciousness held by philosophers, psychologists, computer scientists, and neuroscientists over the years.

Keywords: Motor skill; knowledge; attention; implicit motor learning; conscious control; reinvestment; marginal perception; hypothesis testing

Article.  18809 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology ; Neuropsychology

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