Scientific research that gives weight and meaning to the importance of good group juju!
Essential for athletes on a (sports) team is the ability to understand the intentions and goals of each other and of their opponents. To do this they must be able to communicate accurately, have positive social connections, and convey a strong sense of group cohesion among the team. All of this is needed for a successful performance.
This article is a brief overview of the biological psychology process involved in creating a positive mindset among sport team members. It begins with an introduction into the neuroscience behind emotional bonds and how they are relevant. It then expands into a discussion about how positive emotions encourage a better performance overall. These findings are specific to a sports team of players but are also useful among any team group.
In their research Pepping & Timmermans (2012) examine the role Oxytocin plays in the biopsychological process of emotions and moods. Oxytocin is a hypothalamic hormone stored in the posterior pituitary at the base of the brain. This hormone is vital in women during childbirth and lactation, in men and women and how they form pair-bonds in intimate relationships, in social memory, social recognition, and social attachment behavior.
Since Oxytocin is directly related to the biopsychological process of developing emotions between people, Pepping & Timmermans (2012) assert that this extends to sports team members. Integral to a sports team is building trust, cohesion, cooperation, and social motivation among the players. Sports teams share positive experiences and emotions, creating a group cohesion and collaborative effort with a common goal. Research findings illuminate a positive correlation between players who engage in encouraging and supportive behaviors with greater performance and achievements. Their research indicates that “positive social interactions” and “prosocial celebratory behaviors” are linked to the bonding experience of Oxytocin.
Expressions of social emotions communicate cooperation and strategies among sports team members. Research also shows that positive emotions “have profound influences on a number of processes, including attentional control, cognition, and interpersonal functioning “. The beneficial subcomponents of sharing positive emotions are linked to performance, perception, attention, memory, decision-making and judgment. “The expression of an emotional state in one person leads to the experience of similar emotions in a person observing the expression…emotions influence other's people's emotions, feelings, and behaviors, leading to the convergence of emotions and moods”, (Pepping & Timmermans, 2012, p. 2). These findings give support to the importance of all team members and how well they interact.
The bonding effects of Oxytocin enhance the ability for empathy. In very general terms empathy is the capacity to see things from another person’s perspective and to recognize the internal (emotional) states of another. What this research shows is that an increase in Oxytocin produces an increase in the capacity for empathy. Empathy is also related to a player’s ability to perceive the opponent's intentions.
“Oxytocin has effects on cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, mind reading, positive and negative social emotions…cause convergence of positive emotions and moods between people and make it possible that athletes can respond to the emotional behavior from their fellow players and opponents”, (p. 16).
The researcher’s on this team agree that more research is needed on this topic. They believe that new discoveries will have a “significant importance for sport psychological and sports science support, talent identification, coaching, training, team selection, and team development”, (p. 16).
Pepping, G. & Timmermans, E. (2012). Oxytocin and the Biopsychology of Performance in Team Sports. Scientific World Journal. Volume 2012; 2012: 567363. Doi: 10.1100/2012/567363. PMCID: PMC3444846.
Understanding how #EmotionalContagion spread's in a group setting can improve the "EmotionalIntelligence of a work environment. #ExecutiveCoaching #Consulting #HR
Paying attention to the emotional atmosphere in a work environment is crucial to the overall health and well-being of individuals and employees.
An emotional contagion can impact all members of a group, either positively or negatively. Researcher’s Dezecache, Conty, Chadwick, Philip, Soussignan, Sperber, & Grèzes (2013) examined emotional contagions within a group. Their findings reveal how emotional states are spread throughout people spontaneously!
People exchange emotional cues and non-verbal communication from each other and from groups of people either with direct contact or peripherally. Consciously and unconsciously people read emotional cues in work environments and at social gatherings. These subtle exchanges of information are transmitted via facial expressions, body language, verbal-tone, and emotional expressions. In these instances, communication occurs.
People are inherently perceptive of what other’s emotional expressions produce. In their research Dezecache, Conty, Chadwick, Philip, Soussignan, Sperber, & Grèzes (2013) demonstrate that emotions like joy and fear are instantly transmitted throughout a group setting. They show that people are neurologically programmed to respond and react to the emotional signals of others, which in turn produces emotional states. This hard-wired function is a survival mechanism.
“These findings demonstrate that one is tuned to react to others' emotional signals and to unintentionally produce subtle but sufficient emotional cues to induce emotional states in others. This phenomenon could be the mark of a spontaneous cooperative behavior whose function is to communicate survival-value information to nonspecifics”, Dezecache, Conty, Chadwick, Philip, Soussignan, Sperber, & Grèzes (2013).
Understanding the collective emotional tone of an organization is imperative for guiding the group towards better cohesiveness, collaboration, and cooperation. A work environment that feels healthy and vibrant allows people to function more optimally, as a group. Positive emotions spread throughout people who experience them. An executive who works with this understanding can improve the collective emotional intelligence of their work environment.
Dezecache, G., Conty, L., Chadwick, M., Philip, L., Soussignan, R., Sperber, D., & Grèzes, J. (2013). Evidence for Unintentional Emotional Contagion Beyond Dyads. Public Library of Science. Volume 8(6), e67371. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067371
In their article titled The relational turn in executive coaching Haan and Sills (2010) suggest that a relational shift is needed in executive coaching. Haan and Sills purport that with the recent developments in neuroscience the “relationship” is key to a coherent and collaborative process in executive coaching, “…we have seen the emergence of a countervailing force to reckon with, a force that both directs us back to the diversity and uniqueness of our clients and also especially to the relationship between coach and client”, (p. 2). The essence of the neuroscience research they reference supports the role of supportive relationships, beginning at infancy and throughout the lifespan, that result in an internal template of enhance self-cohesion and stability.
They suggest that this (relational) process involves integrating psychotherapeutic techniques of working more “intersubjectively” with clients, thus allowing the “mutual influencing of all relationships”. It is their opinion that in these fast-paced times, where there is less of a cohesive support system in-place for executives, that the helping profession of executive coaching can play a vital role in this supportive relationship.
Haan and Sills describe inextricable links between coaching and psychotherapy and emphasize that coaches would benefit their clients to integrate more of these therapeutic techniques into their coaching sessions. These techniques include: setting up weekly meetings and clarifying expectations so that the client feels a sense of structure, client-centered listening and creating an meaningful alliance, “Relationship has been shown to be the single best predictor of outcome of therapy, in such a way that it is not only the quality of the relationship in the final session that is a good predictor of final outcome (which would be a trivial finding), but the quality of the relationship in the first sessions as well”, (Haan & Sills, 2010, p.3).
To add to the neuroscience research that supports this idea, I reference my neuroscience research on the role of mirror neurons and empathy in working intersubjectively with clients: http://gradworks.umi.com/35/08/3508085.html#!.
Haan, E. & Sills, C. (2010). The relational turn in executive coaching. Journal of Management Development. Volume 29(1). Retrieved online October 20, 2013: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1891119&show=abstract
Strategic authentic expressing of positive emotions broadcasts a social #emotional #contagion…in the workplace.
When working with your superiors in a workplace, it’s beneficial to advocate your authentic expression of positive emotions to further goal attainment. While positive emotions in general are contagious to varying degrees in any interpersonal interactions, amplifying them in a work context has shown favorable outcomes for goal attainment. Additionally, inauthentic displays of positive emotions can cast an impression that someone isn’t forthcoming.
“It is not surprising that expressing positive emotions authentically has positive effects regardless of the interaction partner. Authentic expression of positive emotions has all the advantages associated with expressing positive emotions that have been postulated, and found, in research on emotional contagion…” (Wong, Tschan, Messerli &Semmer, 2013).http://www.frontiersin.org/Emotion_Science/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00188/abstract
The idea that our thoughts and moods are linked to an individual’s level of "happiness" has a surprising outcome rooted in genetic testing. Hedonic well-being (the subjective judgments of external experiences that produce a state of happiness) is determined to produces a cellular expression that produces more inflammatory cells in an immune response and less antibody production. In contract, eudaemonic well-being (intentional expression of interior beliefs and values that produce actions) produces .lower levels of inflammatory cells and greater levels of antibodies.
Barbara L. Fredrickson, Karen M. Grewen, Kimberly A. Coffey, Sara B. Algoe, Ann M. Firestine, Jesusa M. G. Arevalo, Jeffrey Ma, and Steven W. Cole
A functional genomic perspective on human well-being
PNAS 2013 110: 13684-13689.
This blog is intended to explore ideas, educate, entertain and expand our thinking. Some posts speak to current trends in the brain sciences, neural benefits of exercise & sports, emotional intelligence and personal growth.