Psychology of a Unicyclist...

This thread kind of ties in with the documentary film I am making on the sport of unicycling and a class project for my Sport Psychology class (which I am taking as a “specialization” course for my senior project–my documentary film).

Things are going well. I’m going to California on December 31 to spend a week with Terry the Unigeezer and document his unicycle adventures as well as get interviews.

This post is for all of you (I need some serious advice here!)

This Saturday, 15 or more of my group riders will be coming down from UMD and parts of NOVA to Fredericksburg, VA to ride for a few hours for fun before we do the Christmas parade. This would be a great opportunity for me to survey and collect data…I just don’t know what to ask. I figured I could just do my Psychology of Sport project on cohesion/nature of groups. I would like to ask questions to find something in common of our personality but I don’t know what kinds of questions to ask and what kind of similarities I need to look for. So I’m doing research at this very moment on motivation, cohesion, and on trait theory of personality to be specific.

For my senior film project (a documentary on the sport of unicycling titled “IN UNISON” - hints on cohesion), I want to touch on what makes unicycling so different from other extreme sports because the phenomenon I have noticed is that while it is a very underground activity and close-knit community sport, all unicyclists identify with each other in a very unique way, much differently than skaters or mountain bikers. There is a strong sense of group identity. We all talk about the things people say in response to seeing us ride by. But it would be great to somehow combine the cohesion factor with the personality. We all know why we ride–because it’s different, unique, and another kind of challenge that we enjoy. It uses complete focus of the moment to execute certain riding abilities and skills. Anyone watch Dan Heaton’s new doc film “Revolution One” from Mountain Film Festival?

So I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to direct this project. I have the people, an upcoming event, and a slight concept, but no idea what to survey. Perhaps compare how their sense of identity with the unicycling community was before they learned, then after they learned, then once they joined our club “DC Uni”, then after the parade–how much (from 1 to 10) they felt a part of the group identity.

Thanks for taking your time to read this–I appreciate any advice. I just want to pick the topic/theory that is most applicable to unicyclists and to my documentary film. If you have a good suggestion for how I can “direct” this sport psychology project (and ultimately a huge argument in my film)…please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’ll be happy to respond PM’s with my phone number and email address if needed.

In Addition…

By the way, I’m also thinking of what it takes for us (psychologically) to go and ride in the public for the first time, and what it takes to endure negative feedback from the public, or how positive feedback affects us. Things like this…psychology of sport applied to unicycling.

Joe, I like what you said here: “complete focus of the moment”. This sums up unicycling for me. With this complete focus, riding in public seems like riding alone in the woods.

  • To get motivated I think of how much I enjoyed my last Muni ride, I also get motivated watching good unicycling vids which ussually seems to be when its raining

  • I don’t really like riding in the public because of bad comments, which I ussauly ignore. This bad feedback seems to be when im not doing any particulary interesting riding such as just riding on the pavement

  • Its nice to hear good comments, I suppose if the good comments are from people my age or around my age its even better to hear

I hope the project goes well

It’s funny you should be focusing so much on “cohesion”. I’ve been riding for close to 32 years now, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden with other unicyclists. Well ok, two hands tops. Unicycling has always been a soloist sport for me. It has only been in the last couple of years that I’ve gotten hooked up with other unicyclists via this website. I would imagine that riders who have started more recently would find the sport to be more cohesive thanks to the internet. Some of us other people might not have that history.
So, depending on the population that you are interviewing, you might want to inquire about the soloist aspect of the sport. There aren’t many of us. We can ride for mile, years, decades without crossing paths with someone else who can actually ride. Of course when we do meet up, we know that we are all members of the same secret society.

Thanks for that Geoff…I never thought of it like that. Got any suggestions for a more relevant angle I could approach for my topic? There’s something theoretical about unicycling and psychology of sport that I can’t quite put my thumb on. But you’re right about what you’ve said. Where I’m from, it can be a solo sport or a group activity…and most of us enjoy it more as a group activity. But solo riding never stopped anybody :slight_smile:

It might worth probing into what other interests and sports Unicyclists are into, thereby building a profile of a ‘potential’ unicycle rider.

A question on this forum could be very interesting, there may have been a thread on this subject before but a proper question would give you a lot of data.

And we’d all be interested in the results.

unicyclist cohesiveness…

Congrats on your “Unicycle Boy” video, good job. I am similar to Geoff in that I learned to ride 29 years ago and rarely if ever see another unicyclist. I’ve ridden my 6ft giraffe (from the Unicycle Factory in 1991) in CA, AZ, FL, VA, SC, and GA. I recently discovered this website and I’m working on learning a lot of new skills that I didn’t know were possible before. Did buy Universe2 a few years ago, and thought that was amazing.
Got the nerve to try clipless pedals on my Giraffe and my “trials” (a Braun with a 20"x 2.5", wish I had KH) a few weeks ago, I like them on the Giraffe a lot, but I’m digressing.
Anyway, I could definitely have fun riding with a group, but haven’t had that opportunity yet.
There are so many variables that go into the psychological aspect of your hypothesis, seems like you need to put together a well thought out survey that you could post for everyone and then perform statistical analysis on the results.
Props to everyone that makes this site what it is. Keep up the great work Joey!

Check this thread, it may give you some ideas of what to research.

I like the ideas you’ve expressed above. Within psychology there is a field that studies “collective identity” and “self representation.” Marilynn Brewer at Ohio State is one of the leaders in this area.

Often these researchers will look at the interplay among three sources of “self”: a.) my own unique traits or characteristics–what makes me special; b.) my dyadic relationships; and c.) my group memberships.

I think many of us would cite unicyling as one of the most unique of our features. It makes us different from 99% of the people we encounter every day. And we take inordinate pride in this particular difference.

Then, when we see another unicyclist–doing what we think is so special, our celebration of them is in some ways a celebration of ourselves. Possible?

Check out Google Scholar, and you’ll find lots on “collective identity” and “self representation.”



Thank you everyone!!