Trading An I for An Eye – Robert M. Nideffer
This autobiographical paper describes the influence that Eastern Philosophy and the Martial Arts had on the development of The Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) inventory and on the development of Attention Control Training (ACT) procedures.
This chapter on Attention Control Training was written for Dr. Jean William’s book on Applied Sport Psychology (2006). The chapter describes Attention Control Training processes and procedures and provides information from two case histories to show how ACT is integrated into training and competition.
This article is written for individuals who are already using TAIS, as well as for those who are in the process of considering the use of TAIS. The article has two purposes: First, to provide a summary of the most recent opinions and issue related to the use of personality inventories for selection and training. Second, to show you how TAIS can be differentiated from other personality inventories that measure “The Big Five” personality characteristics.
What makes TAIS so useful is the fact that the concentration skills and interpersonal abilities the inventory measures have an obvious and very direct link to virtually all performance situations. It is this, combined with the fact preferred concentration and interpersonal styles become very trait like under pressure, that makes TAIS a valuable tool when working with individuals who must perform at very high levels and those who must perform under a lot of pressure.
TAIS differs from other instruments in two distinct ways. 1) The characteristics measured have direct relevance to performance and are much more easily translated into job specific behaviors. 2) There is a broad enough range of performance relevant characteristics measured to allow for subtle but critical differentiations between mission or job profiles.
In recent years there has been a great deal written about optimal performance states. Optimal performance, as it is being defined here, refers to those relatively infrequent times when individuals feel totally immersed in the performance. When that happens, performers describe the experience as something outside of the ordinary. They are “in the moment” performing at an automatic level, without need for conscious thought and direction. They feel totally in control, totally focused on the task, extremely confident, with a total loss of self-consciousness, and their perception of the passage of time is altered, either losing all awareness of time, or feeling as if things are happening in slow motion (Williams & Krane, 2000).
This paper describes two very different “altered states,” of consciousness. In one, the zone, time seems slowed down and athlete’s feel as if things are happening in slow motion. In the other, the flow state, individuals lose all track of time and any sense of self. Thoughts and ideas flow forth without any conscious effort on the part of the individual. Information about the requirements, and “how to’s,” for getting into the zone and flow states is provided.
This paper describes the differences between supervisors, managers, middle mangers, and senior managers on TAIS scales measuring performance under pressure, commitment, and dedication. As you might expect there is a linear relationship between those scales and level management with senior managers scoring higher than the other three groups.
According to Fogarty (1995), the theory related to attentional styles was the third most heavily researched area within sport psychology between 1974, and 1992. Some of that research raised questions about the reliability and validity of one of the attentional constructs underlying the development of TAIS attentional scales. This paper was written in response to that criticism and an updated version of the paper appears in: D. Smith, & M. Bar-Eli (2007), Essential Readings in Sport and Exercise Psychology (pp. 265-277). Champaign, IL.: Human Kinetics.