Decision Outcomes in Sport: Influence of Type and Level of Stress

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • 2 George Mason University
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In two experiments, the authors investigated the influence of stress type (i.e., low/no stress, mental, and physical), level (i.e., low, moderate, and high), and Type × Level interaction on intuitive decision frequency, decision quality, and decision speed. Participants were exposed to mental (i.e., color word task, mental arithmetic) and/or physical stress (i.e., running) and then required to make decisions regarding videotaped offensive situations in basketball. Intuitive decision frequency, decision quality, and decision speed were measured for each trial. Study 1 used a between-subjects design whereby 20 participants were randomly assigned to each of the five stress conditions. Results revealed that moderate stress was associated with faster decisions. Study 2 replicated the design and aim of Study 1 using a within-subject methodology (n = 42). Results suggested that moderate stress levels produced better, faster decisions. In conclusion, moderate levels of stress were associated with the most desirable decision outcomes.

Hepler is with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA. Andre is with the School of Kinesiology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA.

Hepler (thepler@uwlax.edu) is corresponding author.
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