Psychology student has research featured in Golf Digest

Feb 22, 2012 | Education and Human Sciences

Luke Simmering, an industrial and organizational psychology doctoral student at Louisiana Tech University, has once again landed his research into the psyche of the avid golfer on the pages of Golf Digest.
Simmering and co-investigator Dr. Dan Sachau, director of the graduate program in industrial and organizational psychology at Minnesota State University-Mankato, asked over 2,000 active golfers if they would be willing to break a variety of golf rules.  The research is presented in an article titled, “Where Do You Fall on Golf’s Honesty Meter?” in the March 2012 issue of Golf Digest.
“One of the most significant and interesting discoveries was that the golfers who were willing to break a rule of golf overestimated the prevalence of other golfers who would also break the rule,” said Simmering.  “This aligns with the psychological principle of the false consensus effect.  That is, people tend to overestimate the extent to which other people engage in the same behaviors or have the same beliefs as they do.”
According to their research and the finding that was most surprising to Simmering, for any given rule, between 89 and 99 percent of the rule-breakers surveyed believed that most of their fellow golfers would break the same rule.  In other words, people who break the rules think most people do as well, so it’s not a big deal to admit it.
Simmering believes this research illustrates the diversity in the interpretation of the rules of golf across various scenarios.
“Many of the golfers who completed the survey suggested that walking back to the tee box upon finding their ball out of bounds is not a reasonable rule to follow for the recreational golfer.  I think this research adds to the conversation that a different set of rules or standards may be pragmatic for recreational golfers.”
This is the second study that Simmering and Sachau have had featured in Golf Digest within the past year.  In the August 2011 issue, they presented research on the number of strokes that avid golfers perceived they would save by purchasing certain types and brands of golf equipment.  Respondent believed that lessons from a golf pro, custom-fitted clubs and extra rounds played were of the greatest benefit.
Simmering and Sachau are currently preparing to share the results of this and other studies with industry leaders.  “We are presenting the results of this research, in addition to two others studies we have conducted, at the World Scientific Congress of Golf conference in Phoenix this March.”
Following his doctoral studies, Simmering hopes to work in the field of employee selection, specifically researching personality assessments used for executive selections.  However, he expects to set aside time to do future studies for Golf Digest.