I came across this really interesting paper last week via twitter (thanks @ScottDUK) and thought it deserved more than a retweet.
The social environment during a post-match video presentation affects the hormonal responses and playing performance in professional male athletes.
Christian J. Cook & Blair T. Crewther
This study examined the social environment effects during a post-match video presentation on the hormonal responses and match performance in professional male rugby union players. The study participants (n=12) watched a 1-hour video of mixed content (player mistakes and successes) from a match played 1day earlier in the presence of; (1) strangers who were bigger (SB), (2) strangers who were smaller (SS), (3) friends who were bigger (FB) and (4) friends who were smaller (FS). The salivary testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) responses to a physical stress test were assessed 3days later, along with pre-match T levels and match-ranked performance 6-7days later. All treatments were associated with elevated T responses (% change from baseline) to the stress test with SS>SB and FB>FS. The C stress responses after the SS and SB interventions were both greater than FS and FB. On match-day, the FB approach was linked to higher T concentrations than SB and better ranked performance than FS and SS. The subsequent testing of a population sub-group (n=8) across a video (V) and a non-video (NV) presentation in a neutral social environment produced similar stress-test and performance outcomes, but pre-match T concentrations differed (V>NV). In conclusion, the presence of other males during a post-match video assessment had some influence on the hormonal responses of male athletes and match performance in the week that followed. Thus, the social environment during a post-match assessment could moderate performance and recovery in elite sport and, in a broader context, could be a possible modulator of human stress responses.
Considering that group presentations still make up the majority of video presentations, this does have implications that we need to consider. The study does have some limitations but the idea that the environment in which we deliver our presentations is something we always have to be conscious of.
The researchers reported that in previous research, video presentations can acutely modify male testosterone concentrations and thus, could potentially link through to changes in behaviour and short-term physical performance. Social environments can be affected by a multitude of factors but it is interesting to see the effects reported in this study. By inviting strangers and friends into the video session they saw a significant rise in testosterone concentrations with the introduction of Small Strangers giving the greatest jump in testosterone, up 51.8% compared to Small Friends increasing testosterone by 8.6%.
It is well worth checking out the full paper here. If nothing else it might get you thinking. How could we use this information in a practical setting?
I would like to see some similar research done with ‘Motivational Movies’ – do they really make any difference?