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An Ego-Involving Motivational Climate Can Trigger Inflammation, a Threat Appraisal, and Basic Psychological Need Frustration in an Achievement Context

Candace M. Hogue

In this experimental investigation, male college students (N = 56; M age = 19.95 years) who did not yet know how to juggle were randomly assigned to a 30-min instructional juggling session with either a caring, task-involving climate or an ego-involving climate. An inflammatory response to psychosocial stress was assessed via salivary interleukin-6 prior to (t = 0) and following (t = +30, +45, +60 min) the session. Surveys were utilized to examine positive and negative affect prior to the session and affect, psychological needs, challenge and threat appraisals, and perceived ability to juggle following the session. This is the first investigation to show that ego-involving climates can trigger inflammation, along with maladaptive psychological responses. Participants in the caring, task-involving climate responded with greater psychological need satisfaction, resource evaluations, positive affect, and perceived juggling ability. This research suggests there may be important physiological consequences to ego-involving climates, in addition to concerning cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses.

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

Candace M. Hogue, Mary D. Fry, Andrew C. Fry, and Sarah D. Pressman

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.