How Emotions Influence Performance in Competitive Sports

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Richard S. Lazarus University of California, Berkeley

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In this article, I have attempted to apply my cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion, on which I have been working for over 50 years, to an understanding of performance in competitive sports. I begin with four metatheoretical and theoretical positions: (a) stress and emotion should be considered as a single topic; (b) discrete emotion categories offer the richest and most useful information; (c) appraisal, coping, and relational meaning are essential theoretical constructs for stress and emotion; and (d) although process and structure are both essential to understanding, when it comes to stress and the emotions, we cannot afford to under-emphasize process. These positions and elaborations of them lead to my examination of how a number of discrete emotions might influence performance in competitive sports.

Richard S. Lazarus is Professor Emeritus with the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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