DR. ROBERT M. NIDEFFER



History of the Developmentof TAIS and ACT

From the late 1960's through the middle 70's, Dr. RobertNideffer was conducting basic scientific research on the relationship betweenattentional processes (concentration skills), physiological arousal, andperformance. It was that that research which led to his promotion as associateprofessor in psychology at the University of Rochester in 1976, and tofull professor at The California School of Professional Psychology in 1980,as well as to listings in "Who's who in research in the medical sciences,"and "Outstanding Young Men of America - 1977".

More important than professional recognition, however,was the fact that the research led to the development of a theoryexplaining the relationship between attention (concentration), arousal,and performance. That theory provided both psychological researchers andpractitioners with a framework for developing performance enhancement programs,and for making predictions about who would and who would not be successfulwithin any given performance setting. The Attentionaland Interpersonal Style Inventory (TAIS), a 144 item paperand pencil test, was developed to measure those attentional and interpersonalcharacteristics which the theory indicated were important determinantsof behavior (Nideffer, 1976a). The Inventory of Communication and ConcentrationSkills (ICCS) and the Concentration and Personality Profile(CPP) which is used in Focus for Success, are based onTAIS. In fact, the Focus on Success program uses the ICCSto simulate the reader's scores on TAIS, and to then generate feedback.

While at the University of Rochester, Dr. Nideffer developedthe universities psycho-educational and biofeedback laboratory. This combinedresearch/service facility provided the proving grounds for many of thetechniques used in Attention Control Training(ACT) and Focusfor Success. In addition to providing graduate students in psychologywith an arena within which they could engage in applied research, the laboratoryprovided stress management and performance enhancement services to thegreater Rochester community, including the Eastman School of Music, EastmanKodak, Zerox, and Sybron corporations. This work received a great dealof attention nationally, resulting in feature articles in publicationslike Dun's Review, Business Week, The National Observer, and TheNew York Times. Identified as one of the worlds leading experts inthe area of stress managment and performance enhancement, Dr. Nideffermade appearances on nationally syndicated news and entertainment programsincluding The Tonight Show where he taughtJohnny Carson to break a board with his head, and Not For Women Onlywhere he was interviewed by Barbara Walters.

In 1976, The Inner Athlete was published (Nideffer1976b). This book used the theory that had been developed, and a mini-versionof TAIS, to provide readers (professional and lay alike) with arational for the use of psychological techniques like mental rehearsal,hypnosis, progressive relaxation, biofeedback, etc. as tools to enhanceperformance. Because the book provided a scientific basis for the applicationof these procedures, and because it pointed out that the decision to usea procedure should vary from person to person and situation to situation,it gave the field of applied sport psychology the credibility it had beenlacking.

In 1978, The Inner Athlete was followed by a booktitled Attention Control Training: ACT(Nideffer & Sharpe, 1978).ACT provided a model for the development of individualized performanceenhancement training programs. Programs which are designed to give individualsgreater control over concentration and arousal under highly challengingand/or stressful conditions.

Both the original article on TAIS and The InnerAthlete, were to become "classic references" in the field of sportpsychology (LeUnes, Wolf, Ripper, & Anding,1990). In the late 1970'sthe sport psychology academy of the American Alliance for Health PhysicalEducation and Recreation (AAHPER) recommended that the theoretical constructsrelating attention and arousal to performance be required reading for anyonestudying in the field. In 1979, both TAIS and The Inner Athletewere translated into Russian and became best sellers. In 1981, the CoachingAssociation of Canada incorporated the theory into it's National CoachingCertification program (Coaching Association of Canada, 1981). Similar adoptionsat both a professional (psychologist) and consumer (coach-athlete) leveloccurred in other countries around the world including Australia, Germany,Japan, China, and Spain.

From 1980 through the present, you would have difficultyfinding a book being used as a text within the field of sport psychology,which does not contain a chapter dealing directly with TAIS andACT and the associated theory (Bond, Gross, 1990; Cox, 1985; Hackfort& Speilberger, 1989; Klavora & Daniel, 1979; Korn, 1983; Nideffer,1981; Salmela, 1981; Singer, Murphrey & Tennant, 1993; Straub, 1978;Strauss, 1984; Suinn, 1980; Williams, 1986,1993).

In 1992, the impact of the theoryand it's application to the field of sport psychology was recognized whenDr. Nideffer was honored as "One of the top ten sport psychologists inNorth America for the decade of the 80's, and chosen as a role model forstudents beginning their training in the field (Straub & Hinman, 1992;Snyder, & Abernethy, 1992).

Sport has provided the ideal laboratory for the evaluationof both theory and application because the consequences of performanceerrors are both immediate, and obvious. This makes it possible to designcontrolled studies which examine the effects of various interventions onoutcome. Research has documented the effectiveness of performance enhancementand stress management programs in sport. So much so in fact, that the NationalResearch Council has recognized the relevance of those procedures to otherperformance arenas, most notibly, business (Druckman & Bjork, 1991).

In 1976, following the publication of The Inner Athlete,Dr. Nideffer founded Enhanced Performance Systems (EPS).It's the application of TAIS and ACT to the enhancement ofhuman performance, and to the development of products and training toolsrelated to the underlying theory, that providesthe focus for Enhanced Performance Systems. As an organization,EPS is committed to making full use of rapidly developing technologyto create even more valid and reliable training tools and performance enhancementprograms for business, sport, education, and the home. Tools and programswhich will provide a benchmark for the industry.

Dr. Nideffer believes very strongly in the importanceof the integration of mental and physical processes in order to achieveone's full potential. For this reason, it's no surprise that he has alwaysbeen interested in exploring the various ways that modern technology canbe used to get mind and body functioning as one. That was the spirit behindthe development of the psycho-educational and biofeedback laboratory atthe University of Rochester, and it is the spirt behind the developmentof Focus for Success.

A great deal of scientific research supports the theorywhich underlies The Attentional and InterpersonalStyle Inventory and the application of those psychological skillstaught in Focus for Success, to the enhancement of performance.The challenge now, is to find better ways of measuring performance relevantconcentration skills, and better ways to teach those skills. In this respect,Focus on Success ushers in a new era in self-help. In a very realsense, this product takes the reader into the 21st century.

A primary concern with any psychological test which relieson the individual's self-report has to do with the accuracy of the person'sself- perceptions and his or her ability to put his or her skills in perspective(e.g., relative to others). The integration of audio and video examplesalong with text in Focus for Success, provides a great deal of claritythat has been absent in the past and promises to greatly increase the accuracyof self-report measures. In addition, the integration of computer gamesprovides a more objective measure of the readers concentration skills.

A major problem with self-help materials in the past hasbeen the fact that low levels of self-confidence on the part of many readers,has keep them from making successful use of the material presented. Theyhave doubted their ability to understand the material, and they have doubtedtheir ability to learn and/or apply it. CD Interactive technology can dramaticallyincrease a reader's self-confidence, and motivation, by allowing him/herto ask questions, and by letting the reader see and hear (as well as read)exactly what it is, that needs to be accomplished.
 


Bibliography

Bond, J. & Gross, J. (1990). Australian Sport Psychology:The Eighties. Australian Institute for Sport, Canberra (Pp. 149-166).

Coaching Association of Canada (1981). National CoachingCertification Program: Coaching Theory - Level 3.

Cox, R.H. (1986). Sport psychology concepts and applications.Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Publishers (Pp 43-147).

Druckman, D. & Bjork, R.A. (1991). In the mind'seye: Enhancing Human Performance. National Research Council, NationalAcademy Press, Washington, D.C.

Hackfort & Spielberger (1989). Anxiety in sport:An international perspective. New York: Hemisphere (Pp. 117-135).

Klavora & Daniel (1979). Coach, Athlete and theSport Psychologist, Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics (Pp 99-112).

Korn, M. (1983). Orthopedic Clinics of North America -Sports Medicine, Philadelphia, Saunders (Pp. 373-385).

LeUnes, A., Wolf, P., Ripper, N., & Anding, K. (1990).Classic references in Journal of Sport Psychology, 1979-1987. Journalof Sport and Exercise Psychology, 12, 74-82.

Nideffer, R.M. (1976a). Test of attentional and interpersonalstyle. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 394-404.

Nideffer, R.M. (1976b). The Inner Athlete, NewYork, Thomas Crowell.

Nideffer, R.M. & Sharpe, R. (1978). A.C.T.: Attentioncontrol training, New York, Wyden Books.

Nideffer, R.M. (1981). The ethics and practice of appliedsport psychology. Ithaca: Mouvement.

Salmela, J.H. (1981). The world sport psychology sourcebook. Ithaca, NY: Mouvement.

Singer, R.N., Murphey, M., & Tennant, K.L. (1993).Handbook on Research in Sport Psychology, A project of the InternationalSociety of Sport Psychology. New York: Macmillian (Pp. 542-556).

Snyder & Abernethy (1992). The Creative Side ofExperimentation: Personal Perspectives From Leading Researchers in MotorControl, Motor Development, and Sport Psychology . Human Kinetics,Champaign, Ill. (Pp.165-177).

Straub, W. (1978). Sport psychology: An analysis ofathlete behavior, Ithaca: Mouvement (Pp. 231-257).

Straub, WF., & Hinman, D.A. (1992). Profiles and professionalperspectives of 10 leading sport psychologists. The Sport Psychologist,6, 3, 297-313.

Strauss (1984). Sports Medicine, Philadelphia,Saunders (Pp. 501- 510).

Suinn, R. (1980). Psychology in sports: Methods andapplications. Minneapolis, Burgess (Pp 281-290).

Williams, J. (1986, 1992). Applied sport psychology,Palo Alto: Mayfield (Pp. 243-261).
 
 


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