The influence of self-talk on challenge and threat states and performance

Adrian Hase, Jacob Hood, Lee Moore, Paul Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives:

A psychophysiological response called a challenge state has been associated with better performance than a threat state. However, to date, challenge-promoting interventions have rarely been tested. Therefore, this study investigated whether instructional and/or motivational self-talk promoted a challenge state and improved task performance.

Design:

A three-group, randomised-controlled experimental design was used.

Method:

Sixty-two participants (52 males, 10 females; Mage = 24 years, SD = 6) were randomly assigned to one of three self-talk groups: instructional, motivational, or control (verbalising trial number). Participants performed four dart-throwing tasks. Cognitive and cardiovascular measures of challenge and threat states were recorded before the first and final task.

Results:

The motivational, but not the instructional group, improved their performance between the first and final tasks more than the control group. Self-talk had no effect on the cognitive or cardiovascular challenge and threat measures. However, evaluating the task as more of a challenge (coping resources match/exceed task demands) was related to better performance. Cardiovascular reactivity more reflective of a challenge state (higher cardiac output and/or lower total peripheral resistance reactivity) was more positively related to performance in the motivational than in the control group, and in the control than the instructional group.

Conclusions:

Motivational self-talk improved performance more than control self-talk. Furthermore, motivational self-talk may have strengthened, whereas instructional self-talk may have weakened, the relationship between challenge and threat states and performance. Hence, athletes in a challenge state may benefit from motivational self-talk, whereas those in a threat state may profit from instructional self-talk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101550
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Volume45
Early online date14 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

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