Attentional Focus and Individuals’ Perceptions: A Systematic Review

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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  • 1 The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
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Although multiple review studies have supported the superior effects of an external compared with internal focus, these reviews are based on performance outcomes. Currently, the literature lacks knowledge regarding the effects of external/internal foci on individuals’ perceptions, which may provide further explanations for how attentional focus affects performance. Therefore, the present study conducted a systematic review of survey/questionnaire data of participants’ thoughts and emotions from laboratory studies. The authors used ERIC, SPORTDiscus, PsycArticle, CINAHL Plus, Health Source Nursing Academic edition, and PubMed search engines. Literature specific to external/internal focus effects on motor learning or performance were reviewed (N = 37). The results showed that participants generally adhered to the assigned attentional focus instruction and there was a trend that preference may affect the attentional focus effects, but the results were inconsistent regarding if attentional focus cues affected the magnitude of adherence and mental demands. There were substantial differences in methodologies and theoretical issues of measuring these data. Future studies should adopt inferential statistics, choose theoretically relevant questions in a priori manner, or, at minimum, propose a hypothesis for the selected question.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC, USA.

Yamada (m_yamad2@uncg.edu) is corresponding author.

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