Hitting is Contagious: Experience and Action Induction

Rob Gray, Sian L. Beilock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In baseball, it is believed that " hitting is contagious," that is, probability of success increases if the previous few batters get a hit. Could this effect be partially explained by action induction-that is, the tendency to perform an action related to one that has just been observed? A simulation was used to investigate the effect of inducing stimuli on batting performance for more-experienced (ME) and less-experienced (LE) baseball players. Three types of inducing stimuli were compared with a no-induction condition: action (a simulated ball traveling from home plate into left, right, or center field), outcome (a ball resting in either left, right, or center field), and verbal (the word " left" , " center" , or " right" ). For both ME and LE players, fewer pitchers were required for a successful hit in the action condition. For ME players, there was a significant relationship between the inducing stimulus direction and hit direction for both the action and outcome prompts. For LE players, the prompt only had a significant effect on batting performance in the action condition, and the magnitude of the effect was significantly smaller than for ME. The effect of the inducing stimulus decreased as the delay (i.e., no. of pitches between prompt and hit) increased, with the effect being eliminated after roughly 4 pitches for ME and 2 pitches for LE. It is proposed that the differences in the magnitude and time course of action induction as a function of experience occurred because ME have more well-developed perceptual-motor representations for directional hitting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Baseball
  • Induction
  • Mirror neurons
  • Motor control
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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