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Department of Psychology

Motivation Lab

Many individuals invest much time and effort into training, practicing, and studying in order to perform well but ultimately fall short, unable to showcase their true capabilities when it matters most. We are interested in determining a) the causal mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, b) how to prevent it, and c) how to facilitate optimal performance in conjunction with enjoyment of the performance process.

In the lab we are systematically exploring how different types of goals impact attention and stress, which in turn determine levels of performance and enjoyment. Contexts of interest include sport, performing arts, and the classroom (teachers & students).

The primary independent variable is goal types. Moderator variables include: tasks, skill level, task difficulty, and stress appraisal. Primary dependent variables include: performance and enjoyment. Potential mediating are: attentional focus, cognitive load, cognitive and somatic anxiety, and rate of perceived exertion.

We are also developing an interview protocol to assess individual differences related to anxiety and performance which will ultimately enable us to tailor interventions to meet our end goal of simultaneous facilitation of optimal performance and enjoyable performance experiences.

Recent studies include:

  • Evaluation of Stress and Performance Theories in Sport Psychology Textbooks: Frequency and Accuracy.
  • Does Multi-Tasking Impact Anxiety, Cognitive Load, Enjoyment, and Heart Rate?
  • Comparison of Recommended Goal Setting Steps in Sport Psychology Textbooks vs Research Literature.

I also engage in survey research and content analyses related to common myths in psychology, specifically relating to cognition (e.g., learning styles, multi-tasking), motivation (e.g., praise,  rewards), and stress (e.g., stress is bad).

If you are interested in working with me, or if you have questions about my research, please send me an email at steven.wininger@wku.edu.

Dr. Steve Wininger
Director, Motivation Lab



Gary A. Ransdell Hall, Office 3012

1906 College Heights Blvd. #11030,
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1030

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 Last Modified 5/4/22