Although it has often been implied that self-focused attention plays a mediating role in performance degradation under stress, the assumption that stress will evoke self-focus has received limited empirical support. Two studies were carried out to explore this relationship. The first study, using a time-to-event paradigm, showed that a higher level of self-focused attention accompanied increased anxiety levels in the buildup to competition. In the second study, basketball novices who were instructed to focus on the mechanics of the ball-shooting process during practice suffered a significant performance decrement in a subsequent stressful test phase, whereas those who were required only to do their best during practice showed no degradation in performance. It was concluded that self-focused attention may increase in response to psychological stress, and that the negative effect of self-focused attention on performance under stress is likely to be magnified by learning the skill under a high degree of self-focused attention, which can result in an overawareness of the performance process.
Chu-Min Liao and Richard S.W. Masters
Mark Wilson, Mark Chattington, Dilwyn E. Marple-Horvat, and Nick C. Smith
This study examined attentional processes underlying skilled motor performance in threatening situations. Twenty-four trained participants performed a simulated rally driving task under conditions designed either to direct the focus of attention toward the explicit monitoring of driving or a distracting secondary task. Performance (lap time) was compared with a “driving only” control condition. Each condition was completed under nonevaluative and evaluative instructional sets designed to manipulate anxiety. Mental effort was indexed by self-report and dual-task performance measures. The results showed little change in performance in the high-threat explicit monitoring task condition, compared with either the low-threat or the high-threat distraction conditions. Mental effort increased, however, in all high- as opposed to low-threat conditions. Performance effectiveness was therefore maintained under threat although this was at the expense of reduced processing efficiency. The results provide stronger support for the predictions of processing efficiency theory than self-focus theories of choking.
Katharina Geukes, Christopher Mesagno, Stephanie J. Hanrahan, and Michael Kellmann
Trait activation theorists suggest that situational demands activate traits in (pressure) situations. In a comparison of situational demands of private (monetary incentive, cover story), mixed (monetary incentive, small audience), and public (large audience, video taping) high-pressure situations, we hypothesized that situational demands of private and mixed high-pressure conditions would activate self-focus traits and those of a public high-pressure condition would activate self-presentation traits. Female handball players (N = 120) completed personality questionnaires and then performed a throwing task in a low-pressure condition and one of three high-pressure conditions (n = 40). Increased anxiety levels from low to high pressure indicated successful pressure manipulations. A self-focus trait negatively predicted performance in private and mixed high-pressure conditions, and self-presentation traits positively predicted performance in the public high-pressure condition. Thus, pressure situations differed in their trait-activating situational demands. Experimental research investigating the trait–performance relationship should therefore use simulations of real competitions over laboratory-based scenarios.
Denise M. Hill, Sheldon Hanton, Nic Matthews, and Scott Fleming
This study explores the antecedents, mechanisms, influencing variables, and consequences of choking in sport and identifies interventions that may alleviate choking. Through the use of qualitative methods, the experiences of six elite golfers who choked frequently under pressure were examined and compared with five elite golfers who excelled frequently under pressure. The perspectives of four coaches who had worked extensively with elite golfers who had choked and excelled, were also considered. The study indicated that the participants choked as a result of distraction, which was caused by various stressors. Self-confidence, preparation, and perfectionism were identified as key influencing variables of the participants’ choking episodes, and the consequence of choking was a significant drop in performance that affected negatively future performances. Process goals, cognitive restructuring, imagery, simulated training, and a pre/postshot routine were perceived as interventions that may possibly prevent choking.
Sarah Danthony, Nicolas Mascret, and François Cury
correlated with worry, self-focus, bodily symptoms, and somatic tension because, in the PE context as in the sport context, avoidance-based goals have less adaptive effects on young people’s cognitions, affect, and behavior than approach-based goals (e.g., Mascret, Elliot, & Cury, 2015 ; Warburton, 2017
Rachel Arnold, David Fletcher, and Jennifer A. Hobson
leadership characteristics.” Followers’ Perceptions of Leaders’ and Managers’ Dark Characteristics The participants’ collated responses indicated that followers perceived five main dark characteristics of leaders and managers in elite sport. These were self-focused, haughty self-belief, inauthentic
Choking research in sport has suggested that an athlete's tendency to choke, versus give a better than usual (i.e., “clutch”) performance depends on his or her personality, as well as on situational influences, such as a reliance on explicit (versus implicit) knowledge when pressured. The current study integrated these hypotheses and tested a structural equation model (SEM) to predict sport performance under pressure. Two hundred and one participants attempted two sets of 15 basketball free throws, and were videotaped during their second set of shots as a manipulation of pressure. Results of the model suggest that “reinvesting” attention in the task leads to greater anxiety (cognitive and somatic), which then predicts a higher level of self-focus; self-focus, then, did not lead to improved performance under pressure, whereas feelings of self-reported “perceived control” did help performance. Implications for measurement of these constructs, and their relationships with performance, are discussed.
K. Andrew, R. Richards, and James D. Ressler
Self-study is a self-focused, improvement-oriented approach to understanding one’s own professional practices while also forging recommendations for the larger community of learners within a discipline. Faculty in teacher education have been engaging in self-study research since the early 1990s, and the approach has recently been adopted by faculty working in physical education teacher education. The purpose of this research note is to advocate for the use of self-study as part of a larger research agenda focused on understanding faculty development and experiences within physical education teacher education. We connect the self-study of teacher education practices to occupational socialization theory and discuss the ways in which self-study can help faculty think more critically about their work as it relates to teaching, research, and service. We also discuss best practices for self-study and lessons learned as they relate to an ongoing research project. We close by discussing implications of self-study work and recommendations for future research.
W. Jack Rejeski and Lawrence R. Brawley
In adopting attribution theory, researchers in the field of sport psychology have followed the cognitive perspectives characteristic of mainstream investigations in this area. Numerous investigations regarding the self-perception of achievement outcomes in sport reveal this trend. The present article discusses the sport psychological perspective of attribution theory in terms of present and future concerns. First, a critical evaluation of existing approaches to the study of sport attribution is presented. The discussion outlines the typical characteristics of such investigations and their problems, some inherited from psychology and others unique to sport. This critical analysis underscores the narrowness of previous interests. Second, the broad scope of attribution is presented to emphasize the wealth of research problems that could be studied, in addition to those concerning self-focus on achievement outcomes. Third, recent investigations of attribution in sport are briefly described to exemplify new research directions. These examples sketch the importance of subjects' phenomenology, the situational and internal variables affecting attributions, and a developmental comment. If future studies recognize the rich array of social inference problems within the sport context and confront previous investigative errors, the result should be a productive decade of attribution research in sport psychology.
Leo J. Roberts, Mervyn S. Jackson, and Ian H. Grundy
suspect that the cause is attentional interference due to anxiety. Two causal mechanisms often presented as opposing views have taken much limelight: self-focus and distraction (e.g., Payne et al., 2019 ). Distraction accounts broadly suggest that choking is caused by too little attention on the