The role of repression in the incidence of ironic errors was investigated on a golf task. Coping styles of novice golfers were determined using measures of cognitive anxiety and physiological arousal. Following baseline putts, participants (n = 58) performed a competition putt with the opportunity to win UK£50 (approx. US$100). Before completing the competition putt participants were instructed to “land the ball on the target, but be particularly careful not to over-shoot the target.” The distance the ball traveled past the hole formed the measure of ironic effects. Probing of the coping style × condition interaction, F(2, 41) = 6.53, p < .005, revealed that only the repressors incurred a significant increase in ironic error for the competition putt. This suggests that the act of repressing anxiety has a detrimental performance effect.
Woodman and Davis are with the School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd, UK.