The Psychology of Zwift

(Bryan Simmons) #1

I’ve not seen any posts on this yet so thought I would put something out there on the subject. Wondering if others have thought about the psychology aspect of the Zwift environment.

I’m a typical “weekend warrior” father of three who gets training in when I can. I use a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer and Garmin speed/cadence sensor for virtual power readings. What is really interesting to me is the “psychology” impact Zwift has. A couple of examples: When climbing, I want to pedal faster and generate more power to increase my climbing rate. The “close the gaps”, downhill aero rides and sprints have the same impact - I can’t resist the challenge before me. While you certainly don’t have to, the visuals of the scenery and other riders passing as you climb, speeding downhill and sprinting to the finish arch create the urgency to move your legs faster. While not a structured plan like a Trainer Road offers, Zwift certainly has built in features to help you improve your cycling fitness. I’m looking forward to new segments and routes in the Zwift world.

(Toby Wankenobe) #2

It’s funny. I used to do Bkool but only videos with riders. You’re virtually recreating an historical event with actual riders. On Zwift, the riders are virtual but it’s an “actual ride” in real time. The motivation is much stronger. It’s much more like a real ride with others, with lots of changes in pace as you react to what is happening around you.

(Ron Cagenello) #3

I absolutely go “easier” on the downhills - it feels like I can take a break even though it’s the same effort, purely the psychological effect of seeing the downhill. I am glad you posted this, I was wondering if any others experienced that same feeling.

(Ray Garza) #4

I use Zwift as another training tool that I use when following a training plan so I tend to ignore the “Close the Gap” urging and stick to the plan. Although I do coast down hill as would do in real life.

(G gaWattz SLC UT) #5

once there was a man named, Pavlov…

(Ron Sines [odz] B) #6

If only my fan would speed up on the downhills the virtual reality would be complete.

(Peter Lin) #7

I love hills and it definitely triggers a Pavlovian effect for me. Even when I intend to do an easy endurance ride, I find my cadence speeds up on the climb. The sound effect of going down hill also fools my brain into thinking I’m really going down hill. logically I know the bike isn’t going any where, but when I hit the little dip in the descend it feels like it’s real.


@Ron - maybe Zwift or some member of the community can hack together a bluetooth controlled fan. Reading speed/cadence with bluetooth is pretty easy. It could probably be done with raspberry pi + arduino.

(Ron Cagenello) #8

@Peter that’s a great idea I’m more of a DIY audio person but that would be a fun project for sure. Trick would be to get the (scaled) speed out of Zwift to feed into the fan controller - even though the psychological effect results in differences on the trainer, they don’t come close to the speed differences in the simulator. There must be a 2-way data feed to support devices like the Kickr, I wonder if that is available to any compatible receiving device…

(Peter Lin) #9

@Ron - with the kickr, you can get speed, cadence and power, so that should be enough to accurately calculate virtual speed. those that don’t have kickr, would need some way to get the virtual incline.