Enhance Your Mental Fitness

Enhance your mental fitness

Enhance your mental fitness by learning the science of goal setting. Regulatory Focus Theory (RFT) involves analyzing how individuals approach goals, what motivates the individual, and the decision making process when working toward a specific goal. The theory has been studied in multiple contexts.

The theory is categorizes an individual’s motivation toward a goal into two general areas: promotion and prevention. Promotion involves focusing on hopes and the attainment of goals. Promotion focus looks at what the individual can gain. Prevention focus involves the individual being motivated to avoid losing something. In this orientation, individual’s work out of obligation and in order to maintain what they possess or whatever level they have achieved.

Regulatory Fit Theory is an additional theory composed by E. Tory Higgins of Columbia University. This theory compliments Higgins’ Regulatory Focus Theory in analyzing the manner in which humans approach goals with a promotion or prevention focus. Regulatory fit theory suggests that if an individual believes they are “fit” to complete a certain task or goal they are generally more engaged in the activity.

Sport psychologists have utilized the theory to determine if an individual’s regulatory fit, or belief that they are fit to achieve a task can increase their likelihood of success when involved in a task framed as a promotion or prevention task. In a study by Kutzner, Plessner, and Forderer (2013), examined the application of regulatory focus and regulatory fit theory to a task requiring minimal muscular work- putting a golf ball. The team determined that if an individual’s chronic focus matches the framing of the situation, they could enjoy a 20% increase in performance.

Chronic focus is discussed as being a style in which an athlete approaches a task. Does the athlete approach a task thinking of hopes and what can be attained (promotion focus)? Does the athlete approach a task thinking of what can be lost (prevention focus)? The authors indicate that neither approach is necessarily better than the other, and that it can be beneficial to take a promotion or prevention approach dependent upon the scenario.

Researches did however indicate that athletes are more successful when their chronic focus matches that of a task. For example, a soccer player is told that they are to make at least three out of five penalty shots. The athlete with a promotion focus is more likely to be successful. Conversely, a soccer player is told that they are not to miss greater than two penalty shots. The athlete with a prevention framework would more likely be successful in this situation.

Researches shows that it is necessary for an athlete to become aware of their chronic focus style and adjust the framework of a situation to match their chronic focus. The goal is for the athlete’s chronic focus (promotion or prevention focus) to fit the framework of the task. Athletes should consider becoming increasing aware of their chronic focus to enhance their mental fitness in order to experience maximum performance.

Original Source:
Kutzner, F., Forderer, S., & Plessner, H. (2013). Regulatory fit improves putting in top golfers. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 2(2), 130-137.

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