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Sebastian Uhrich and Martin Benkenstein

This article reports the findings of an investigation into the atmosphere in stadiums during live team sports. Experiencing this special atmosphere represents an essential part of the total service provided by the organizers of sport events. However, existing research into the concept of atmosphere focuses on the retail environment. Our first step was therefore to define sport stadium atmosphere as a theoretical construct, drawing on theories from environmental psychology. We then developed a mimic (multiple indicator-multiple cause) model to measure the construct. To specify the mimic model, we generated and selected formative measures by means of a delphi study (N = 20), qualitative expert interviews (N = 44), and an indicator sort task (N = 34). The results indicate that various physical and social aspects of the stadium environment are causal indicators of sport stadium atmosphere. Following this, we conducted phenomenological interviews with spectators at sport events (N = 5) to identify typical affective responses to stadium environment (representing the reflective indicators of the mimic model). These interviews revealed that fans’ experience of stadium environment is characterized by high levels of arousal and pleasure. In addition to our findings, the mimic model developed in this study represents a useful tool for future research into sport stadium atmosphere.

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Agnès Bonnet, Lydia Fernandez, Annie Piolat and Jean-Louis Pedinielli

The notion of risk-taking implies a cognitive process that determines the level of risk involved in a particular activity or task. This risk appraisal process gives rise to emotional responses, including anxious arousal and changes in mood, which may play a significant role in risk-related decision making. This study examines how emotional responses to the perceived risk of a scuba-diving injury contribute to divers’ behavior, as well as the ways that risk taking or non-risk taking behavior, in turn, affects emotional states. The study sample consisted of 131 divers (risk takers and non-risk takers), who either had or had not been in a previous diving accident. Divers’ emotional states were assessed immediately prior to diving, as well as immediately following a dive. Results indicated presence of subjective emotional experiences that are specific to whether a risk has been perceived and whether a risk has been taken. Important differences in emotion regulation were also found between divers who typically take risks and those who do not.

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Brad D. Hatfield, Daniel M. Landers and William J. Ray

In the initial phase of the study (Study 1) electrocortical arousal (EEG alpha activity) was assessed at four standardized sites (T3, T4, 01, and 02) from male and female (N = 17) international-caliber marksmen during rifle shooting performance. The task consisted of the execution of 40 shots at a conventional indoor target from the standing position. During each shot preparation, a significant increase in left temporal and occipital alpha activity was demonstrated, while the right hemispheric activity remained constant. Hemispheric laterality ratios (T4:T3) evidenced a significant shift toward right-brain dominance as the time to trigger pull approached. In the second phase of the study (Study 2) male and female (N = 15) marksmen performed the same shooting task and, additionally, the resultant EEG performance patterns were contrasted to those observed during the mental processing of sterotyped left-brain and right-brain mental tasks. Observed EEG patterns, that is, temporal ratios, during shooting replicated the results of Study 1, and furthermore, indicated that the laterality indices derived during shooting exhibited a more pronounced shift to right-brain processing than did those derived during right-brain mental task performance. The EEG data obtained during the comparative mental task states were used to interpret the shooting performance EEG findings in terms of the implications from bilateral or split-brain cognitive process theory.

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Alain Ferrand and Monique Pagès

This study is part of a larger investigation concerned with a methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of image sponsoring. The notion of image, which is equivalent to the idea of social representation from social psychology, is central to this series of studies. This study was concerned with the similarities and dissimilarities in the images or social representations of the Lyon's Tennis Grand Prix, France (GPTL) and Perrier, a seller of mineral water. In the first phase, a convenience sample of 80 subjects was presented with a list of 300 adjectives and requested to identify those adjectives that described the tennis event and Perrier, Frequency analyses of these responses showed that 23 adjectives were most often cited as representative of the tennis event, while 16 were cited as representative of Perrier. These items were used in the construction of a semantic differential scale, which was administered to 162 randomly selected subjects who were familiar with both the tennis event and Perrier. Canonical analyses showed that the GPTL and Perrier shared the images of (a) being highly popular and entertaining and (b) being dynamic and successful, but distracting. The results also showed that the GPTL had the images of (a) a distinguished, as opposed to a commercial, enterprise and (b) popular because of its arousal value. Perrier's images dimension was considered to be natural and young as opposed to appreciated. The practical implications of the results are discussed.

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Trey Brokaw

This presentation will share the results from a study conducted on college track and field athletes at the NCAA division II level. The study compares the results of scores on the Test of Performance Strategies (TOPS) and, individual athlete’s improvements in their event area according to the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) scoring charts for track and field. A select group of primarily middle distance and distance runners was selected for the study. These athletes were given a baseline TOPS examination to evaluate their prior knowledge and use of mental skills in their athletic experiences. Personal best times in the athlete’s primary events were recorded from the previous year. During the nine weeks of the outdoor track and field season that this study took place; athletes were introduced to a wide array of activities associated with improving their mental skills. Such activities included goal setting, imagery, relaxation, optimum level of arousal, affirmations, and the use of positive self-talk and routines. Athletes would have an organized mental skills session at least twice each of the nine weeks of the season. Athletes also had an individual meeting with the coaches to go over goal setting and the use of their mental skills to enhance their physical skills. After the outdoor season was completed the athletes took a post-examination TOPS. The scores were compared with their pretest scores as well as their improvement in personal best times in their main events on the track.

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Amy Gooding and Frank L. Gardner

Seventeen (17) members of three NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams completed measures of mindfulness and sport-related anxiety to examine the relationship between mindfulness, preshot routine, trait arousal, and basketball free throw shooting percentage. It was hypothesized that (a) mindfulness scores would predict game free throw shooting percentage, (b) practice free throw percentage (indicative of basic skill) would predict game free throw percentage, and (c) consistency in the length of prefree throw routine would predict game free throw percentage. Results indicate that levels of mindfulness significantly predict game free throw percentage and that practice free throw percentage also predicts game free throw percentage. Length and/or consistency of preshot routine were not predictive. Although not proposed as a hypothesis, a statistically significant relationship was also found between an athlete’s year in school (which reflects competitive basketball experience) and game free throw percentage. Together, these results clearly suggest that the combination of mindfulness, skill (practice free throw percentage), and competitive experience (year in school) all contribute to the prediction of competitive free throw percentage and that these variables are more central to successful free throw percentage at this level of competition than length/consistency of one’s preshot routine.

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Samuele Joseph and Duncan Cramer

The present study examined elite cricket batsmen’s experiences of sledging to establish its frequency, effects, and the coping strategies used by players. Sledging in cricket is the practice whereby players seek to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating the opposing batter. Semistructured interviews were conducted on 10 elite batsmen. Interviews were transcribed and content analysis was conducted to elucidate themes. Several similar factors were reported for both the frequency of sledging and its effectiveness, the most influential being the period of innings, state of the game, and in-game pressure. The majority of the reported effects of sledging were negative, most notably, an altered perception of self, an altered state of mind, decreased batting ability, and over arousal. Numerous associated coping strategies were mentioned, the most frequently used being variations of self-talk. Other noteworthy coping strategies included routines, external support, showing frustration, avoidance coping, and relaxation techniques. Overall, players perceived that sledging had a substantial effect on a batter and their level of performance.

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Douglas Potter and Denis Keeling

The effects of exercise and circadian rhythms on memory function were explored in a group of shift workers (mean age 32 yrs). A variant of the Auditory-Verbal Learning Test was used to test memory for word lists at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30, 3:30, and 6:30 p.m. in a repeated-measures design. Without exercise there was clear evidence of a circadian rhythm in memory performance, with peak performance occurring at 12:30 and poorest performance at 3:30. A brisk 10-min walk followed by a 15- to 30-min recovery period resulted in significant improvement in memory recall at all time periods except 12:30. The results of the AVLT task suggest an improvement in both working memory and long-term memory performance. Rhythmic changes in serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine levels all affect cortical arousal and cognitive function. Exercise may have resulted in altered levels of these neurotransmitters, increased glucose, oxygen, or nutrient levels, or from temporary changes in growth hormone or brain-derived neurotropic factor levels resulting in increased synaptogenesis and neurogenesis. The physiological basis of this temporary improvement in memory remains to be determined, but this simple behavioral intervention may have widespread application in improving memory function in all sections of the population including children and the elderly.

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Robert N. Singer

To execute flawlessly and automatically in sports competition is the goal of any serious athlete. Automaticity suggests nonconscious attention to the act itself while executing, and not being aware of and therefore vulnerable to external and internal distractors. Self-paced sports and events in sports allow time for preparing to perform in a stable and predictable situation. More recently, cognitive, behavioral, and psychophysiological measures associated with developing and realizing proficiency in such acts have become increasingly identified. Many themes associated with these topics appear in the scholarly literature: conscious vs. nonconscious, controlled vs. automatic, voluntary vs. involuntary, explicit vs. implicit, systematic vs. heuristic, willed vs. nonwilled, aware vs. unaware, internal vs. externally oriented, and intentional vs. unintentional behaviors. Implications are being made about ways to influence the learning process by modeling expertise behaviors, as well as enhancing the performance of elite athletes. Of particular importance is the immediate preperformance and during-performance routine that serves as a mechanism for self-regulation of arousal level, thoughts, performance expectancy, and attentional focus.

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Brian C. Focht and Heather A. Hausenblas

This study examined the state anxiety (SA) and perceived arousal (AS) responses to self-selected or imposed-intensity bouts of acute exercise performed in different environments by 30 women with high social physique anxiety (SPA). Participants were randomly assigned to a self-selected or imposed-intensity choice group and subsequently (a) exercised in a naturalistic environment, (b) exercised in a laboratory environment, and (c) rested quietly. Assessments of SA and AS were obtained before, during, and following each condition and data were analyzed via separate 2 × 3 × 6 (Intensity Choice × Condition × Time) ANOVAs with repeated measures on the Condition and Time factors. Results revealed that AS increased during both exercise conditions. Conversely, SA was elevated only during the naturalistic exercise condition, and item-level analysis revealed that this increase was composed of both activation and apprehension/worry inventory items. Although SA was reduced 5 min following both exercise conditions, the anxiolytic effect only persisted following the laboratory condition. No significant differences in SA or AS were observed between the two groups. It is concluded that environmentally-induced perceived evaluative threat is associated with an increase in SA during exercise and may attenuate postexercise anxiolysis in women with high SPA.