The Influence of a Motivational Climate Intervention on Participants’ Salivary Cortisol and Psychological Responses

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Research in achievement goal perspective theory suggests that the creation of a caring/task-involving (C/TI) climate results in more advantageous psychological and behavioral responses relative to an ego-involving (EI) climate; however, research has not yet examined the physiological consequences associated with psychological stress in relation to climate. Given the possible health and fitness implications of certain physiological stress responses, it is critical to understand this association. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine whether an EI climate procures increases in the stress-responsive hormone cortisol, as well as negative psychological changes, following the learning of a new skill, compared with a C/TI climate. Participants (n = 107) were randomized to a C/TI or an EI climate in which they learned how to juggle for 30 min over the course of 2 hr. Seven salivary cortisol samples were collected during this period. Results indicated that EI participants experienced greater cortisol responses after the juggling session and significantly greater anxiety, stress, shame, and self-consciousness relative to C/TI participants. In contrast, the C/TI participants reported greater enjoyment, effort, self-confidence, and interest and excitement regarding future juggling than the EI participants. These findings indicate that motivational climates may have a significant impact on both the physiological and psychological responses of participants.

Candace M. Hogue, Mary D. Fry, and Andrew C. Fry are with the Department of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Sarah D. Pressman is with the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA.