Bend it like Beckham: Embodying the motor skills of famous athletes

Patric Bach*, Steven P. Tipper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Observing an action activates the same representations as does the actual performance of the action. Here we show for the first time that the action system can also be activated in the complete absence of action perception. When the participants had to identify the faces of famous athletes, the responses were influenced by their similarity to the motor skills of the athletes. Thus, the motor skills of the viewed athletes were retrieved automatically during person identification and had a direct influence on the action system of the observer. However, our results also indicated that motor behaviours that are implicit characteristics of other people are represented differently from when actions are directly observed. That is, unlike the facilitatory effects reported when actions were seen, the embodiment of the motor behaviour that is not concurrently perceived gave rise to contrast effects where responses similar to the behaviour of the athletes were inhibited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2033-2039
Number of pages7
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


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