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12. Jul 2021

Sports: Men and women react differently to a missing audience

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Here you find the doctoral student’s profile of Amelie Heinrich. She published results of her doctoral studies at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and shared the research more widely with a press release.

About the author:

A. Heinrich
  • Amelie Heinrich ORCHID ID
  • Research area(s): Sport Psychology, Elite Sports
  • Institute of Sport Science link, MLU

Field(s) of expertise during doctoral studies:

  • Psychophysiological factors of motor performance
  • Visual perception and attention
  • Social context and sport performance (e.g., audience, co-acting competitors)

Curriculum Vitae

  • Research Associate at the Department of Youth Sport, Institute of Applied Training Science (Leipzig)
  • Doctoral studies in the group Sport Psychology & Sport Pedagogy & Sport Sociology of Prof. Dr. Oliver Stoll at MLU
  • Master in Applied Sport Psychology at MLU Halle-Wittenberg in 2017

Challenges, rewards and contribution

Q: What was your most important contribution to the publication?
A: One important contribution to the publication was my spontaneous idea to use the unique opportunity that restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic offered to examine audience effects in sports. In the following, I was responsible for data preparation and analyses as well as writing the original draft of the paper. As the competition data we analyzed were extremely complex, it was a good learning project for me and I was happy that one of the co-authors, Dr. Florian Müller (Friedrich Schiller University Jena), is an excellent sparring partner for everything that has to do with data.

Q: What was challenging and what was a rewarding moment during your work presented in the publication?
A: Sitting at home alone during a lockdown and preparing and analyzing data was challenging and sometimes frustrating. But seeing the results and realizing that they provide new insights into audience effects and social facilitation theory and might be interesting for the scientific community but also for coaches and athletes was totally worth it! Another rewarding moment was, of course, when we got the news that our paper had been accepted after the review process.

Significance of publication

Without an audience, men run slower and women faster: The lack of spectators during the coronavirus pandemic appears to have had a noticeable effect on the performance of athletes at the 2020 Biathlon World Cup. According to the new analysis, women also performed better in complex tasks, such as shooting, when an audience was present while men did not.

from press release no. 095/2021 of June 22, 2021

Related publication

A. Heinrich, F. Müller, O. Stoll, R. Cañal-Bruland 
Selection bias in social facilitation theory? Audience effects on elite biathletes’ performance are gender-specific. 
Psychology of Sports and Exercise 55, 101943 (2021) 
doi:  10.1016/j.psychsport.2021.101943

See also: “Frauen reagieren auf leere Ränge anders als Männer” at (10.07.21)

About this profile

Doctoral students contribute significantly to publications highlighted by the MLU press office in many cases. These early stage researchers and their work in connection with the publication are in the focus of this profiles by InGrA.

Are you interested in science communication and have an interesting story to tell? Get in touch with MLU’s press office at

Über Thomas Michael

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