Psychology of Physical Activity

Studies in the Psychology of Movement and Sport focus on one or both sides of the reciprocal relationship between psychological factors and human performance in either the broad context of movement or the specific context of sport. The faculty in this area draw from many specialty areas of psychology, including clinical, cognitive, developmental, experimental, psychophysiological, and social.


Particular themes of research include the role of various psychological processes (attention, mental imagery, motivation) in the performance of movement skills, behavioral and psychophysiological indices of motor learning, the phylogenetic and ontogenetic constraints on physical growth and motor development, the influence of movement and exercise on the psychological well-being and brain functions of individuals over the life-span, and interpersonal processes in movement settings associated with human development.


Facilities in the Psychology of Movement and Sport area include well-equipped research laboratories for examining brain-behavior relationships in a variety of contexts. Systems include recording equipment for whole-body and various segment movement kinematics and forces, and an electrophysiological setup for examining brain electrical activity (EEG) during cognitive-motor tasks. A host of special purpose computer programs are available for computer simulation of visualization of movement dynamics. Facilities exist for computer editing and analysis of behavioral observation data videotaped in the field or in the lab. Transcription equipment and software for analysis of qualitative data also are available.


Learn more about the faculty members who mentor Psychology of Movement and Sport graduate students at Penn State:

Additional faculty

Additional faculty who have an interest in this area: