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Alan J. Budney

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Shane M. Murphy, Robert L. Woolfolk, and Alan J. Budney

In this study, subjects were asked to select three different images they thought would make them angry, fearful, or relaxed. After imagining each scenario, subjects attempted a strength task utilizing a hand grip dynamometer. As predicted by the Oxendine hypothesis, the relaxation image significantly lowered performance on the strength task. Although subjects in the fear and anger conditions reported increased levels of arousal, no increase in strength performance was noted in these two conditions. A cognitive interpretation of the relationship between arousal and performance is advanced in explanation of the present findings. Specifically, it is suggested that preparatory arousal is effective only if subjects focus their attention while aroused on a successful outcome of performance. This explanation is consistent with current conceptualizations of cognitive preparation strategies as coping skill devices by which athletes manage their performance. Future research directions are suggested based upon the present findings.