Unicycling and Rubik’s Cube-solving: Psychology behind breaking obscure world records

b most Rubiks cubes solved while riding a unicycle

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In August, Stuart Sobeske, a high-school student from Coldwater, Michigan, finally accomplished the feat he had spent the past six months preparing for: He rode his unicycle up and down a runway at the Coldwater Airport for a little under an hour, and one by one, he solved Rubik’s cubes. Eighty of them, to be exact.

Before Sobeske, the record for most Rubik’s cubes solved on a unicycle was 28, in 2010. It’s unclear from the Guinness website how many times this particular record has been broken before. But regardless, there now are at least two people in this world who have devoted hours to practicing their unicycling, and turned countless cubes around and around in their hands, in order to reach something that doesn’t bring them money or (in all likelihood) fame.

So what, exactly, does it bring them?

“The thing that motivates the person to win a race or an athletic performance is a mix of motivations similar to what you get in trivial things like setting bizarre records,” said Ian Robertson, a professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin and the author of The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure. Human motivation can be sliced and diced into any number of categories—intrinsic versus extrinsic is one example—but one of the more well-known classifications is the “three needs” theory, which breaks motivation into, well, three needs: for achievement, for power, and for belonging.

Read full, original post: Why Break a World Record?

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