A sophomore slump or sophomore jinx or sophomore jitters refers to an instance in which a second, or sophomore, effort fails to live up to the relatively high standards of the first effort. It is commonly used to refer to the apathy of students (second year of high school, college or university), the performance of athletes (second season of play), singers/bands (second album), television shows (second seasons), films and video games (sequels/prequels).
In the United Kingdom, the "sophomore slump" is more commonly referred to as "second year blues", particularly when describing university students. In Australia, it is known as "second year syndrome", and is particularly common when referring to professional athletes who have a mediocre second season following a stellar debut.
The phenomenon of a "sophomore slump" can be explained psychologically, where earlier success has a reducing effect on the subsequent effort, but it can also be explained statistically, as an effect of the regression towards the mean.
In music, a similar trend to the sophomore slope is the "difficult third album", which is often characterized by struggles in changing musical style. Examples include the Doors' Waiting for the Sun, Joe Jackson's Beat Crazy, Bauhaus' The Sky's Gone Out, and Killing Joke's Revelations. Artists such as Billy Bragg, Dr. Strangely Strange, and Black Reindeer have referenced the effect in their respective album titles and artwork.
- Feinstein, Jessica. Sophomore slump sneaks up on students. Archived 2012-09-19 at Archive.today Yale Daily News. 25 March 2004.
- Henderson, Angela. Sophomore slump afflicts many students. Archived 2011-06-07 at the Wayback Machine The Lantern. 28 May 2008.
- Lynskey, Dorian. Are you suffering from DSAS? The Guardian. 19 September 2003.
- "Mortimer shakes 'second year syndrome'". ABC News. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- Graff, Gary. "The Doors' Robby Krieger Recalls 'Difficult' Third Album, Shares Rough Mix of 'Spanish Caravan': Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
- Jackson, Joe. "Beat Crazy". joejackson.com.
- Rigby, Paul (October 2008). "That Difficult Third Album Syndrome..." Record Collector. Diamond Publishing. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
- Ogg, Alex. "Revelations review". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry", Billy Bragg, Elektra 9 60502-1 (1986) LP
- Howard Wainer (2007), "The Most Dangerous Equation", American Scientist 95
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