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Testing the Predictions of the Cusp Catastrophe Model of Anxiety and Performance

Lew Hardy

Hardy and Fazey’s (1987) cusp catastrophe model of anxiety and performance has been criticized for being overly complex and difficult to test. The present paper attempts to clarify the model for researchers who are less familiar with its more subtle nuances; it then differentiates between the characteristics of cusp catastrophe models in general and the specific predictions of Hardy and Fazey’s cusp catastrophe model of anxiety and performance. For each prediction, methodological and statistical procedures are suggested whereby the prediction can be tested, and the available evidence that has used these procedures is then briefly reviewed. Some of the practical implications of the cusp catastrophe model for best practice are also discussed.

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An Investigation of the Zones of Optimal Functioning Hypothesis Within a Multidimensional Framework

Tim Woodman, John G. Albinson, and Lew Hardy

Hanin’s (1980) zones of optimal functioning (ZOF) hypothesis suggests that a person is most likely to attain peak performance within an individual, specific bandwidth of state anxiety. The present study investigated Hanin’s ZOF hypothesis within a multidimensional framework, whereby zones of optimal functioning were computed for cognitive and somatic anxiety. Participants (N = 25) were members of a competitive bowling league; they completed the CSAI- 2 prior to each league match over a period of 20 weeks. Performance was operationalized as each participant’s score in the first game of each match, and these scores were standardized within subjects. The analysis revealed a significant main effect for somatic anxiety zone level and a significant interaction between cognitive and somatic anxiety zone levels (below, in, and above zone) and subsequent performance. Results are discussed in terms of the theoretical implications for future researchers, specifically in relation to the cusp catastrophe model.