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Sarah Kölling, Rob Duffield, Daniel Erlacher, Ranel Venter and Shona L. Halson

, with increasing arousal thresholds from stage N1 (light sleep) to N3 (deep sleep). In the course of the night, NREM and REM sleep alternate in cyclic fashion, with higher proportions of NREM in the first third of the night and expanding REM episodes throughout the night. 7 The measurement and

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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.

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Chun-Chih Wang, Brandon Alderman, Chih-Han Wu, Lin Chi, Su-Ru Chen, I-Hua Chu and Yu-Kai Chang

, exercise-induced arousal has often been reported as a potential mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of acute exercise on cognition ( Lambourne & Tomporowski, 2010 ); according to this hypothesis, acute exercise of moderate intensity is often predicted to result in the largest benefits for cognitive

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Daniel Gould, Robert Weinberg and Allen Jackson

Two experiments were conducted to determine if different mental preparation strategies produced differential strength performance and whether arousal was the major mediating variable explicating this relationship. In the first experiment, 15 male and 15 female subjects performed under five different mental preparation conditions in a 2 × 5 (sex by mental preparation strategy) Latin square design. The mental preparation conditions included: attentional focus, imagery, preparatory arousal, a control-rest condition, and a counting backwards cognitive-distraction condition. Immediately after employing each technique, all subjects performed four trials on a leg-strength task, and measures of state anxiety and other cognitions were then obtained. The findings revealed that the preparatory arousal and imagery techniques produced the greatest change in performance, with preparatory arousal subjects also reporting the greatest changes in cognitive states. However, due to the possibility of range effects resulting from the within-subjects design used in Experiment I, a second between-subjects experiment was conducted. Thirty males and 30females performed in a 2 × 3 (sex by mental preparation) design using the preparatory arousal, imagery and control conditions of Experiment 1. Only the preparatory arousal condition was found to facilitate performance. However, no consistent changes in cognitive states were found between experiments, and these inconsistent findings were interpreted as being caused by methodological problems associated with self-report assessment of cognitive states.

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Gordon W. Russell

Mood scales were administered to spectators attending an especially violent ice hockey game (n = 117) and a relatively nonviolent game (n = 159). Subjects completed the scales either prior to the opening face-off, during the first or second period intermissions, or immediately following the match. The between-subjects design revealed an increase in spectator hostility accompanied by a quadratic arousal function for the violent game. The relationship between hostility (and arousal) and the period of play was best described by an inverted-U function. Arousal decreased at the nonviolent match. Other mood states were largely unaffected by the two games. The results were discussed with reference to three models of spectator moods in which outcome is featured as a major variable.

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Lee J. Moore, Samuel J. Vine, Mark R. Wilson and Paul Freeman

Competitive situations often hinge on one pressurized moment. In these situations, individuals’ psychophysiological states determine performance, with a challenge state associated with better performance than a threat state. But what can be done if an individual experiences a threat state? This study examined one potential solution: arousal reappraisal. Fifty participants received either arousal reappraisal or control instructions before performing a pressurized, single-trial, motor task. Although both groups initially displayed cardiovascular responses consistent with a threat state, the reappraisal group displayed a cardiovascular response more reflective of a challenge state (relatively higher cardiac output and/or lower total peripheral resistance) after the reappraisal manipulation. Furthermore, despite performing similarly at baseline, the reappraisal group outperformed the control group during the pressurized task. The results demonstrate that encouraging individuals to interpret heightened physiological arousal as a tool that can help maximize performance can result in more adaptive cardiovascular responses and motor performance under pressure.

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Deborah L. Feltz and Denise A. Mugno

The present investigation was designed to replicate and extend the Feltz (1982) study of the causal elements in Bandura's (1977) theory of self-efficacy. Path analysis techniques were employed to investigate the predictions based on Bandura's model of self-efficacy, along with the additional influence of autonomic perception on the approach/avoidance behavior of female college students (N = 80) attempting a modified-back dive. The Bandura model predicted a reciprocal relationship between self-efficacy and back-diving performance, and between self-efficacy and physiological arousal (heart rate). It was also predicted that autonomic perception was a better predictor of self-efficacy than was physiological arousal, but not better than previous back-diving performance. Additionally, self-efficacy was hypothesized to be the mediator of past performance accomplishments, physiological arousal, and autonomic perception on back-diving performance. Bandura's model was tested against a “full” model that included performance, autonomic perception, and actual physiological arousal, along with self-efficacy as direct causal influences of back-diving performance. Results provided greater support for the full model. Although one's self-efficacy was the major predictor of performance on Trial 1, subjects' heart rates also significantly predicted performance on Trial 1. After Trial 1, back-diving performance on a previous trial was the major predictor of performance on the next trial. Furthermore, one's perception of autonomic arousal was a significant influence on self-efficacy but not on performance. Previous back-diving performance, however, was a better predictor of self-efficacy than autonomic perception. No reciprocal relationship was found between self-efficacy and physiological arousal. Moreover, the full model explained more performance variance than did the Bandura model.

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Bottom W. Brewer, Judy L. Van Raalte and Darwyn E. Linder

The effects of experimentally induced pressure pain on the performance of a weight lifting task, a simple golf putting task, and a complex golf putting task were examined in male college students. It was found that pain did not affect performance of the weight lifting task, slightly hampered performance of the simple putting task, and severely hampered performance of the complex putting task. Because the adverse effects of pain increased with task complexity, the findings are consistent with the notion mat pain is a form of arousal and mat pain affects performance in a manner similar to arousal. Limitations of the present experiments and directions for future research are discussed.

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Robert L. Wilkes and Jeffery J. Summers

The effectiveness of five types of cognitive preparation on strength performance was examined in a 2 X 5 (Pre- and Posttest × Mental Preparation Condition) design, with repeated measures on pre-posttest. The mental preparation conditions were: arousal, attention, imagery, self-efficacy, and a control read condition. Immediately following the posttest trials, subjects completed a questionnaire measuring various cognitive states. The results showed that preparatory arousal and self-efficacy techniques produced significantly greater posttest strength performance than the control group. Analysis of the postexperimental questionnaire data suggested that a general effect of the preparation strategies used was to focus attention on the task to be performed. It was concluded that the effectiveness of a particular cognitive strategy may depend on the nature of the task to be performed and the particular aspects of the task to which attention is directed.

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Yannick A. Balk, Marieke A. Adriaanse, Denise T.D. de Ridder and Catharine Evers

Performing under high pressure is an emotional experience. Hence, the use of emotion regulation strategies may prove to be highly effective in preventing choking under pressure. Using a golf putting task, we investigated the role of arousal on declined sport performance under pressure (pilot study) and the effectiveness of emotion regulation strategies in alleviating choking under pressure (main study). The pilot study showed that pressure resulted in decreased performance and this effect was partially mediated by increased arousal. The main study, a field study, showed that whereas the choking effect was observed in the control condition, reappraisal and, particularly, distraction were effective emotion regulation strategies in helping people to cope instead of choke under pressure. These findings suggest that interventions that aim to prevent choking under pressure could benefit from including emotion regulation strategies.