Michael Bar-Eli

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Michael Bar-Eli
Michael Bar-Eli

23 January 1953
Holon, Tel Aviv, Israel
ResidenceBe'er Sheva`, Israel
Other namesMiki
EducationBen-Gurion University
Hebrew University
German Sport University
OccupationPsychologist, professor
Years active1973 - present
OrganizationBen-Gurion University of the Negev
Known forIntelligence, cognition, self-perception, motivation, burnout and sport injurie
Notable work
Psychological performance crises
Wingate five-step approach to mental preparation
WebsiteOfficial website

Michael Bar-Eli (born January 23, 1953), also known as Miki, is an Israeli psychologist. He is a professor in the Business Administration Department,[1] and holds the Nat Holman Chair in Sports Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Bar-Eli has held various posts at the University, among them Chair of the Business Administration Department and faculty representative for the Supreme Appointments Committee of the university. In addition, he serves as chair of the Supreme Academic Council and Chair of the institutional Appointments Committee at the Academic College at Wingate.


Bar-Eli was born in 1953. He grew up and was educated in Holon. He attended Mitrani High School and graduated with a major in Mathematics-Physics. His compulsory military service in the IDF was spent as a soldier in a Hawk anti-aircraft missile battery. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the battery in which he served was stationed on the Egyptian front and recorded the highest number of downings of aircraft ever achieved by a Hawk battery,[2] anywhere. After his discharge from the IDF he earned a B.A. degree in Behavioral Sciences at Ben-Gurion University, an M.A. in Psychology at the Hebrew University, and his Doctorate in Sport Psychology and Sociology at the German Sport University in Cologne. Upon his return to Israel after completing his studies, he volunteered as a military psychologist in the standing army, for which he was awarded the rank of Major (following an officers' course at age 32). After completing two stints in the military, he engaged in sport psychology in the Research and Sports Medicine Division of the Wingate Institute, serving as Director of the Behavioral Sciences Department. In 1995 he was appointed Associate Professor in the Faculty of Business and Management at Ben-Gurion University; in 2003, he was promoted to Full Professor. He served in 2015-2018 as Chair of the Business Administration Department. Prof. Bar-Eli also serves as Chair of the Supreme Academic Council and head of the Sports Management studies at the Academic College at Wingate.[3]

In the organizational domain: In the 1980s, he served as a Major in the standing army, and has held senior positions in the psychological staff of the IDF. He oversaw the establishment of the entire human resources selection and placement system in the GOC army headquarters. Later on, he served as head psychologist of the Artillery Corps, where he engaged not only in the selection and placement of human resources, but also in organizational development and consultation. For many years, he was intensively active in this domain as part of his reserve duty in the IDF, as an organizational-instructional consultant for the Center for Combat Fitness.  He serves as a Research Fellow in the Israel Association for Organizational Development.

In the field of sports: Prof. Bar-Eli engaged in psychological-organizational consulting mainly in the team ball games. He served, inter alia, as psychologist for basketball teams such as Maccabi Tel Aviv, and for Israel's National Teams in basketball and water-polo, as well as premier league soccer teams. He has moderated many workshops and given numerous lectures on subjects related to sport and physical activity. Since 2018, he serves as the head psychologist the Israel Basketball Association; in addition, since 2019, he is also the head of performance psychology education and development in the Israel Football (Soccer) Association.[4]

Memberships and appointment

  • 1989-1997: President of the Israel Society for Sport Psychology and Sociology.
  • 1991-2001: Israel’s representative in the European FEPSAC, including 4 years as managing council member and chair of the federation's scientific committee
  • 1989: Founding member of the ASPASP, in which he served as Senior Vice President until 2011.
  • 1995 – Norwegian Sport University, Oslo
  • 2003/4 – German Sport University, Cologne [the first non-German international expert to serve as guest (“stand in”) professor (Vertretungsprofessor) at the university since its establishment]
  • 2009 – University of Paris, Fran
  • 2012/13 – Mercator Professor, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tuebingen, Germany
  • 2013 – Technical University, Munich, Germany
  • 2013 - Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany
  • 2014-2017 – Distinguished Invited Professor, Ruprecht-Karls University, Heidelberg, Germany

Areas of interest and contribution

Bar-Eli began to publish intensively in 1988, mainly on the subject of his doctoral dissertation, the diagnosis of psychological performance crises in sports competitions. He examined diverse perspectives pertaining to the effect of various factors on the probability of crisis, in contrast to the probability of the athlete being in an optimal psychological state that enables maximal performance. To this end, Bar-Eli was the first to use the Bayesian approach in sports for prolonged diagnosis of the probability of crisis development in competition. Viewed from this perspective, these studies also formed the basis for his later intensive engagement in judgment and decision making (see below).

In the early 1990s, Bar-Eli turned to study goal-setting as a means of improving performance, a subject that was developing rapidly at that time in sport psychology. During the 1990s, he was also among those researching and developing the "Wingate five-step approach to mental preparation," based in part on the principle of biofeedback.

All of the above can be summarized under the heading "mental preparation for performance" in the broadest sense of the term. In addition, Bar-Eli dealt with a variety of subjects, such as intelligence, cognition, self-perception, motivation, burnout and sport injuries. He also addressed various issues connected to mentoring and to the development of young athletes from the psychological, cross-cultural, socio-historical and educational perspectives. Bar-Eli also participated in a number of studies in the fields of sociology and management at the "macro" level, wrote about complex systems, contributed to the literature on the history and philosophy of sport, and wrote about methodology and statistics.

Following his 1995 appointment at the newly established Business Administration Department of the Ben-Gurion University, Bar-Eli began to deal more intensively with psychological issues which are highly relevant to the area of management, such as judgment and decision making, risk taking and behavioral economics. In his works he handled these issues in various contexts, among them sports, physical education, adapted physical activity, consumer behavior, the military and the police. He also focused on questions pertaining to the rationality (or the lack thereof) in decision-making processes, paradoxical behavior, creativity and innovation, and dealt with them from psychological, psycho-philosophical and economic viewpoints.

Bar-Eli's publications are highly relevant to classical management subjects such as economics, decision making, motivation and the complex influences of stress and anxiety on performance. Thus Bar-Eli was a pioneer not only in the sport psychology field but no less so in the application of knowledge acquired in this field for understanding human performance in organizations in general. An excellent example of this is his works on momentum and the "hot hand", and even more so his studies of penalty kicks in soccer, during which the phenomenon known as "action bias"[5] was discovered. The action bias has been applied in countless different contexts and is considered today as one of the important biases characterizing human thought processes in general.

Books and publications

English: Bar-Eli has published about 200 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals around the world as well as chapters in international scientific edited books, mainly in the fields of sport psychology and management, but also in other fields of the behavioral sciences and their application in management. In addition, he co-edited several books and wrote (with co-authors) – among others - two unique books in their field in the world: The first, on judgment, decision making and success in sport, was published in 2011 by Wiley,[6] and the second, on the application of the theory of complex systems in sport, was published in 2013 by Routledge.[7] He also wrote - as a single author - a science-based trade book entitled “BOOST!”, which deals with applications of sport psychology in management and work. It was published by Oxford University Press in 2018 and has been translated into several languages.

Hebrew: Bar-Eli has published about 40 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and chapters in scientific edited books. In addition, he participated in co-editing and writing   a number of books, among them the co-authoring of two textbooks, "The Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (Parts 1 & 2), and "Statistics for Physical Education and Sport" - both of them unique in their field in Israel.

Prizes and commendations

  • 1994 - included among the 10 leading sport psychologists in Europe, in a list published by the European FEPSAC.
  • 2008 - His paper on penalty kicks in soccer was selected by the New York Times[3] Magazine as one of the innovative, groundbreaking and prominent research articles of the year. It was cited widely around the world; for example, it is the only scientific study cited in the 2015 book written by the eminent soccer coach Sir Alex Ferguson.
  • 2009 - selected as the 6th G. Lawrence Rarick Memorial Lecturer at the 17th ISAPA held in Gaevle, Sweden.
  • 2012 - appointed “Mercator (Visiting) Professor” at Tuebingen University, the first non-German scientist to ever win the prestigious Mercator Scholarship awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for outstanding research achievements in the sport sciences.
  • 2014 - appointed as Distinguished Invited Professor at Heidelberg University as part of the German government program to promote international excellence.
  • 2018 - Awardee for the Asian-South Pacific Association of Sport Psychology Fellowship, in recognition of his contribution to founding, promoting and developing the Association (on the occasion of its 30th Anniversary).[3]


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  2. "HEROS OF WAR".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "wingate- michael".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "short CV" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. Bar-Eli, Michael; Azar, Ofer H.; Ritov, Ilana; Keidar-Levin, Yael; Schein, Galit (2007). "Action bias among elite soccer goalkeepers: The case of penalty kicks". Journal of Economic Psychology. 28 (5): 606–621. doi:10.1016/j.joep.2006.12.001.
  6. Bar-Eli, Michael; Plessner, Henning; Raab, Markus (2011-08-26). Judgement, Decision Making and Success in Sport: Bar-Eli/Judgement, Decision Making and Success in Sport. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. doi:10.1002/9781119977032. ISBN 978-1-119-97703-2.
  7. Lebed, Felix. (2013). Complexity and Control in Team Sports : Dialectics in contesting human systems. Bar-Eli, Michael. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 978-1-136-66115-0. OCLC 831117987.

External links