The Influence of Anxiety Direction on Processing Bias

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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In the presence of anxiety, threatening stimuli are allocated greater processing priority by high-trait-anxious individuals (Mathews, 1993). As anxiety direction (Jones, 1995) might best account for individual differences, this investigation aimed to establish whether or not such processing priority is a function of anxiety interpretation. Anxiety facilitators and debilitators performed a modified Stroop test (Stroop, 1935) by reacting to neutral, positive, and negative word types in neutral, positive, and negative mood conditions. A significant 3-way interaction, F(4,80) = 3.95, p < .05, was evident, with facilitators exhibiting a processing bias toward positive words in positive mood conditions. The data support the contention that anxiety interpretation is an important distinguishing variable in accounting for processing bias and support the potential contribution of cognitive restructuring practices to athletic performance.

Eubank is with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 2ET UK. Collins is with the Department of Physical Education, Sport & Leisure Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH4 6JD UK. Smith is with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at Manchester Metropolitan University, Alsager ST7 2HL UK.

Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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