Success Story

Our success story in Chapter 5 is Emma Wiggs, double Paralympic gold medallist and nine-time World Champion Paracanoeist. You can find out more about Emma at:

Her website: 



People or stories included

Ultra-distance cyclist James MacDonald: World Bike Speed Record: James MacDonald sets new record for JOGLEJOG | Cyclist and 24-Hour Cycling Distance Record Attempt Ends After Crash (

Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign:

Studies discussed

90 per cent of Olympians saying they have a high level of self-confidence: Gould, D., Greenleaf, C., Lauer, L., Chung, Y., & McCann, S. (1999). Lessons from Nagano. Olympic coach9(3), 2-5.

The study pulling together the data from forty-eight studies, covering over three thousand athletes from a wide range of sports finding a relationship between confidence and performance: Woodman, T. I. M., & Hardy, L. E. W. (2003). The relative impact of cognitive anxiety and self-confidence upon sport performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences21(6), 443-457.

The study finding confident women earn more: Kamas, L., & Preston, A. (2018). Competing with confidence: The ticket to labor market success for college-educated women. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization155, 231-252.

The golf study testing how success influenced confidence to secure future success: Rosenqvist, O., & Skans, O. N. (2015). Confidence enhanced performance?–The causal effects of success on future performance in professional golf tournaments. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization117, 281-295.

The study of golfers where about half of the participants identified past performance as their biggest reason for confidence: Valiante, G., & Morris, D. B. (2013). The Sources and Maintenance of Professional Golfers’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs. Sport Psychologist27(2).

The study of teachers who when told specific students were gifted (even when they weren’t) used behaviours which ensured by the end of the school year those students to be ahead of their peers and living up to the ‘gifted’ label: Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom. The urban review3(1), 16-20.

Research on how when we expect to do well we are likely to perform better: Nelson, L. R., & Furst, M. L. (1972). An objective study of the effects of expectation on competitive performance. The Journal of Psychology81(1), 69-72.

The experiment weightlifters who were misled about how much weight they had lifted, and were able to lift increasingly heavier weights: Wells, C. M., Collins, D., & Hale, B. D. (1993). The self‐efficacy‐performance link in maximum strength performance. Journal of sports sciences11(2), 167-175.

The weightlifters being told they were being given performance-enhancing drugs who saw confidence and then performance rise: Maganaris, C. N., Collins, D., & Sharp, M. (2000). Expectancy effects and strength training: do steroids make a difference? The Sport Psychologist14(3), 272-278.

The study of athletes randomly assigned uniform in martial arts events in the 2004 Athens Olympics finding  those who were wearing red won significantly more often: Hill, R. A., & Barton, R. A. (2005). Psychology: red enhances human performance in contests. Nature435(7040), 293.

The analysis of 54 studies on power poses: Cuddy, A. J., Schultz, S. J., & Fosse, N. E. (2018). P-Curving a More Comprehensive Body of Research on Postural Feedback Reveals Clear Evidential Value For Power-Posing Effects: Reply to Simmons and Simonsohn (2017). Psychological science29(4), 656-666.