Optimizing Performative Skills in Social Interaction: Insights From Embodied Cognition, Music Education, and Sport Psychology

Frontiers in Psychology 10 (2019)
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Embodied approaches to cognition conceive of mental life as emerging from the ongoing relationship between neural and extra-neural resources. The latter include, first and foremost, our entire body, but also the activity patterns enacted within a contingent milieu, cultural norms, social factors, and the features of the environment that can be used to enhance our cognitive capacities (e.g., tools, devices, etc.). Recent work in music education and sport psychology has applied general principles of embodiment to a number of social contexts relevant to their respective fields. In particular, both disciplines have contributed fascinating perspectives to our understanding of how skills are acquired and developed in groups; how musicians, athletes, teachers, and coaches experience their interactions; and how empathy and social action participate in shaping effective performance. In this paper, we aim to provide additional grounding for this research by comparing and further developing original themes emerging from this cross-disciplinary literature and empirical works on how performative skills are acquired and optimized. In doing so, our discussion will focus on: (1) the feeling of being together, as meaningfully enacted in collective musical and sport events; (2) the capacity to skillfully adapt to the contextual demands arising from the social environment; and (3) the development of distributed forms of bodily memory. These categories will be discussed from the perspective of embodied cognitive science and with regard to their relevance for music education and sport psychology. It is argued that because they play a key role in the acquisition and development of relevant skills, they can offer important tools to help teachers and coaches develop novel strategies to enhance learning and foster new conceptual and practical research in the domains of music and sport.



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