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Olympic medal winning student finds DD317 a golden experience

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This week we resume the DD317 / social psychology blog with a post about a former DD317 student, the Olympian Etienne Stott. Paul Stenner, Professor of Social Psychology at the Open University and DD317 presentation chair, talked to Etienne about the connections between sport, life and social psychology.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing OU Psychology student and Olympic gold medalist Etienne Stott. One of the great things about working at the OU is that we get students from all kinds of backgrounds and with all kinds of different life experiences, but it is not every day that I get to chat to an Olympian. What made this experience even more interesting is that Etienne had recently completed a Level 3 Social Psychology module with which I am involved, namely DD317. In fact, he was quite fired-up about it! So not only did we talk about his winning (with teammate Time Bailie) of a Gold Medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the two-man Slalom canoe event, but we also got to discuss how his engagement with social psychology has influenced his way of thinking about key social issues, such as the felt responsibilities of athletes as role models.

As a social psychologist, I’m fascinated by questions like how important the support of a crowd is for a sporting performance, and the extent to which the input of a sport psychologist might genuinely enhance abilities. Also, a few years ago I did some research on the concept of ‘being in the zone’ (or ‘BITZ’) which is closely connected to the idea that under certain conditions a performer can enter a flow state which might further enhance their abilities. It was great to get Etienne’s take on that idea, which, in his case, really came from lived experience.

Finally, as you will see if you watch the interview, Etienne Stott is not all about sport. He has some quite inspiring things to say about world politics, including the need for a more active approach to environmental issues. He makes it quite clear that what he learned on DD317 was extremely useful in helping him articulate a sophisticated perspective, and I’m delighted that he now wants to help spread the word of social psychology. If you’re interested in finding out more, have a listen to the interview here:

 https://learn2.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=206348&cmid=1252623#omp-id-37296_anchor

You’ll also find at the link above more information about DD317.

If you want to read more about ‘being in the zone’, I thoroughly recommend the following book: https://www.routledge.com/Culture-Identity-and-Intense-Performativity-Being-in-the-Zone/Jordan-McClure-Woodward/p/book/9781138185920

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