Why 'Horme'?

Some may be wondering where the name Horme has come from. Well, obviously it stems from the Ancient Greek spirit as noted on the homepage for the site. But, its specific formation has a little bit of nuance to it.

In my article where I discuss and propose conceptual definitions for both effort, and the perception of effort, a consistent theme throughout is the problems that can arise from imprecision in language and inconsistency in the labels we use for concepts in science 1. For example, I refer to the excellent paper by Alan Fiske on what he refers to as the The Lexical Fallacy. Fiske notes than many terms used, particularly those for seemingly commonsense concepts, come with a considerable amount of lexical ‘baggage’ and ‘hang-ups’.

Arguably, in proposing stronger conceptual definitions it was also tempting to consider the possibility of dropping the term effort altogether 2. In fact, I made this somewhat radical suggestion in my article:

“Science is a cross-language and cross-cultural endeavour and the language it uses to communicate must not fall prey to lexical fallacies irrespective of their linguistic origins. In this sense, one could be so bold as to begin by suggesting that we drop the term ‘effort’ entirely choosing a new term that is not marred with historical lexical baggage. Fiske (2020) termed the emotion of his groups research focus kama muta using the dead Sanskrit language to avoid the issues of using an existing vernacular lexeme. For my endeavour, it could be as simple as using a typographical symbol instead to denote the concept (e.g. E, Ɛ, ɸ, or μ etc.) which maybe more felicitous. Or similarly to Fiske (2020) we could also use a dead language translation of ‘effort’ (Latin – Conatum; Old English – Anginn; Sanskrit - īhita|), or adopt the term Horme in recognition of the Ancient Greek spirit.”

However, dropping terms that are already a well established part of the scientific lexicon presents its own problems and I follow up noting the issues with this:

“Though I am inclined towards this idea due my belief that clear definition of the ‘concept’ and extensional ‘construct’ is of greater importance than the label we give to it (Markus, 2008; Slingerland, 2003; Fiske, 2020) , there are some practical concerns in following it through (Gerring, 1999; Fiske, 2020). Adopting a novel term potentially limits communication with those who already use the existing terminology, and it is a tall demand to expect researchers across fields to begin to utilise this new term. Indeed, Gerring (1999) considers two of his eight criteria for what constitutes a ‘good’ concept to relate to the term used itself. This includes its ‘resonance’ (“Does the chosen term ring?”) and ‘parsimony’ (“How short is… the term…?”). His criteria of ‘familiarity’, though primarily in reference to the definition itself, also applies to the term. Thus, though I am partial to adopting the term Horme, I will for the sake of ease of communication continue to use the term ‘effort’ in this article; but I stress that the definition, and not the label, is in my opinion the more important component.”

But, I just couldn’t get the term Horme out of my head. So I had to come up with somewhere to use… and so, Horme Lab was born!

Language is a funny thing though, and even this bore the potential for confusion to arise. In Ancient Greek the word is written Ὁρμή and pronounced Ormí. In modern Greek this word still exists though and means momentum in the Newtonian sense.

So, to avoid confusion, I’m adopting the word as written in English:

Horme (pronounced with a hard /h/ - as in /ˈhɔːmi/)

So there you have it. The origin of Horme Lab’s name.

  1. While I certainly think that we should strive for greater precision in the conceptual definitions we use, and of course the labels used as their placeholders in communication, I should note that I am not dogmatic in this sense. I tend to agree with Paul Meehl’s notion of ‘open concepts’ being valuable at least in the early stages of a research programme (which I think has been the case for the topic of effort and without the research conducted on this whilst still underdetermined I probably would not have been stimulated to pursue it in this regard) though the aim should be for greater precision to emerge as our understanding improves. ↩︎

  2. Actually, it’s not the first time I’ve suggested dropping terms due to the potential confusion they can cause. One of my favourite article titles reads: ‘Intensity; in-ten-si-ty; noun. 1. Often used ambiguously within resistance training. 2. Is it time to drop the term altogether?' ↩︎

James Steele
James Steele
Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Science

James is Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Science at Solent University, and Director of Steele Research Ltd. Effort, and its perception, has interested him for the past decade starting with the field of sport and exercise before broadening towards effort across all task domains. Horme Lab represents James' efforts at better conceptualising, theorising, and investigating this area.