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Nov 28 - Arousal and Anxiety.doc

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University of Alberta
Physical Education and Sport
John Dunn

Nov 28 – Arousal and Anxiety How Arousal and Anxiety Affect Performance (continued) 5.) Catastrophe Theory (Hardy) When cognitive anxiety is low • The graph is like an inverted U shape • If our degree of arousal is low, our quality of performance is low • When our degree of arousal is moderate, the quality of performance is high • When the degree of arousal is high, our quality of performance is low When cognitive anxiety is high • Theory suggest that at high levels of cognitive anxiety, as arousal get to a particular point and we get slightly over a particular arousal level, we see a sudden crash in quality of performance • Hardy didn't measure cognitive anxiety, only somatic • Understand what is going on in these models Issues surrounding catastrophe theory 1.) Theory suggests that higher levels of cognitive anxiety (ex. Worry) can be good with moderate arousal 2.) Theory helps account for sudden “crash” in performance (ex. Explains the classic “choke” in high performance sport) 3.) Theory suggests that performer needs to “completely relax” after catastrophe, and then re-activate him/herself to moderate arousal 4.) Recognizes interaction between somatic and cognitive anxiety 5.) Problem: confusion over arousal vs. Somatic anxiety 6.) Problem: extremely hard to test Catastrophe theory Requires anxiety and arousal measures during performance (artificial laboratory settings) Reversal Theory (John Kerr*) Know the names of the theory creators! • Reversal theory postulates that the manner in which an individual interprets his/her level of physiological arousal affects performance • Ex. Situation is perceived as challenging  “butterflies in stomach”  interpretation = excitement (facilitates performance) • Ex. Situation is perceived as threatening  butterflies in stomach  interpretation = anxiety (hinder performance) • Reversal and interpretation can happen spontaneously • Reversal theory predicts that “reversals” in interpretations of arousal can occur very quickly (also linked to appraisal/interpretation of situational
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