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Chapter 5

Chapter 5-Anxiety in Sport and Exercise.docx

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PSYC 3480
Anneke Olthof

Chapter 5 – Anxiety in Sport and Exercise D EFINITIONS AND BASIC CONCEPTS OF ANXIETY Anxiety is Not Arousal  Arousal is a blend of physiological and psychological activation of an individual’s ANS  Varies in intensity on a continuum ranging from deep sleep to peak activation or frenzy  At high end of arousal continuum, high-arousal athletes commonly exhibit both physiological and psychological symptoms o E.g. racing hear, shallow breathing, sweaty palms  Increases in arousal states can occur from positive and exciting events as well as from negative and potentially threatening events Anxiety is an Emotion and is Multidimensional in Nature  Anxiety is most commonly understood as a negative emotion, proposed to have following characteristics: o Elicited following an appraisal (i.e. evaluation) of a specific situation or event o Universally observed across people of all cultures o Has distinct physiology o Observed through a discrete facial expression o Associated with unique set of behaviours that are called action tendencies  Might be experienced by physical activity performers in different ways. Some performers report feeling nauseated of having heavy legs, while other report images of disaster  Anxiety is composed of 2 components, a mental and a physical component o Mental component – cognitive anxiety – reflects athlete’s concerns or worries and reduced ability to focus or concentrate o Physical component – somatic anxiety – “physiological and affective elements of the anxiety experience that develop directly from autonomic arousal”; distinct from arousal because not merely a reflection of the level of physiological arousal that is experienced; is perception of symptom manifestations of arousal  Moderately interrelated and levels of both anxiety responses experienced in most competitive events Anxiety is Context Specific  Social anxiety is specific type of anxiety that occurs during social situations o E.g. speaking in front of a large group of people, competing in a stadium full of fans, or working out at the local gym are situation in which anxiety may arise due to interactions with other people  Social anxiety occurs when people experience, or think that they will experience, evaluations from other people  Competitive anxiety is form of social anxiety, athletes may be concerned about their body, their performance, their fitness level, or their skills being evaluated by spectators, teammates, coaches, family, or friends  Social physique anxiety (SPA) - tendency to experience anxiety as result of perceiving that others may evaluate one’s physique in social settings Anxiety has both Trait and State Components  Both a part of personality and a response that fluctuates from situation to situation  State anxiety - anxiety associated with worries and apprehension that change from moment to moment o E.g. exerciser may experience mild symptoms of anxiety when entering the locker room  Trait anxiety - stable part of individual’s personality, predisposing individual to perceive situations as physically or psychological threatening Dimensions of the Anxiety Response  Intensity of Symptoms o Examines the amount or level of symptoms experienced by physical activity and sport participants  Frequency of Cognitive Intrusions o Refers to the amount of time (%) that thoughts and feelings about the competition occupy an individual’s mind – important for understanding the temporal nature of the anxiety response  Directional Interpretation of Symptoms o Negative emotions do not always negatively affect performance, extent to which the intensity of the cognitive and somatic anxiety symptoms are labeled as either facilitative (i.e. positive), or debilitative (i.e. negative) to sport or physical activity performance SOURCES OF ANXIETY Personal Sources of Anxiety  Age, Experience and Skill Level o Jones & Hanton – investigated anxiety response differences among athletes at different skill levels. Athletes at different skill levels do not differ in the intensity of anxiety symptoms prior to competition. More skilled athletes view anxiety symptoms to be facilitative for performance. Less skilled athletes view anxiety symptoms to be debilitative or harmful for sport performance o Competitive experience may be more sensitive indicator related to differences in experience of anxiety o Mellalieu – higher skilled performers are assumed to possess greater number of competitive experiences, it is possible for a highly skilled athlete to have little experience at a given competitive level due to a sudden rise in performance level  Results form studies that use “competitive experience” as an operation of expertise reveal that more- experienced performers report lower intensities of pre-competitive anxiety and evaluate anxiety to be more facilitative for sport performance compared to the less experienced performers  Gender o Early research provided some evidence that female athletes report higher intensities of trait and state anxiety symptoms prior to competition in comparison with male athletes o In exercise and other physical activity settings, females consistently experience higher levels of SPA compared to males o Researchers have found that different factors may be related to SPA for college women, whereas exercise behaviour was strongest factor for college men o Mack and colleagues found that peer pressure and relative attractiveness of peers were predictors of SPA in both adolescent males and females o Different factors are related to SPA for males and females  TA o Number of personality traits, or dispositions, are known to influence an individual’s level of competitive SA and SPA  Includes competitiveness, extroversion, hardiness, neuroticism, optimism/pessimism, perfectionism, self-consciousness, and self-esteem o TA (competitive TA, the tendency to experience anxiety during competitive situations, and SPA) has received the most attention by sport and exercise psychology researchers o Individual’s level of TA directly affects the perception of threat in competitive and exercise situations and SA intensity levels o Appears to be restricted to the intensity of anxiety symptoms and does not extend to the interpretations of symptoms as facilitative or debilitative to performance o Low trait anxious and high trait anxious athletes interpret SA symptoms in a similar manner for affecting sport performance  Self-Confidence and Self-Presentational Beliefs o Individual’s personal beliefs about capability to achieve sport success as well as being able to present body in a favourable manner are critical sources of anxiety for sport and exercise participants o Positive beliefs about competence, readiness for competition, ability to exert control in the competition, and ability to perform better than one’s opponent are related to lower levels of SA o Beliefs relating to competitive success of the group or team also influence athletes’ prep-competitive anxiety responses. Specifically, athletes who hold positive beliefs about their group’s ability to work together to achieve success report having less pre-competitive SA compared with those athletes whose beliefs are negative o Self-confident athletes are more likely to view SA symptoms as facilitative for performance despite intensity of anxiety symptoms felt. If athlete believes in ability to be successful, likely to view an level of anxiety symptoms as favourable performance o Elevations in self-confidence are purported to assist highly worried athletes to tolerate elevations in physiological arousal that would otherwise disrupt sport performance o During competition, athletes’ skill level, fitness, preparedness, and ability to handle pressure are on constant display for others to evaluate o Uphill & Jones – found that significant source of anxiety was self-presentation (beliefs that one will present one’s physical self to others in a negative way) were related to elevations in competitive trait and SA intensity o Sabiston & colleagues – discrepancy between women’s current and ideal shape was positively associated with SPA. As differences between current and ideal body shape increased, SPA increase  As people exercise more to control their weight and appearance, SPA also increased o Type of self-efficacy is self-presentation self-efficacy – confidence in one’s ability to present imaged of being an exerciser o Gammage & colleagues – women who believed they would be exercising in an environment while wearing loose-fitting shirts and shorts, with no mirrors or windows present, and no men present showed decreased levels of social anxiety and SPA o Different forms of self-confidence beliefs are important sources of anxiety  Self-Regulation Strategies o Canadian researchers been instrumental in studying influence of specific coping skills that athletes use to manage their pre-competitive anxiety symptoms o Common coping skills used by athletes are relaxation skills, self-talk and cognitive restructuring, and imagery o Most important factor distinguishing medal winners from non-medal winners was ability to use coping skills to manage anxiety responses prior to and during competitive performances o Haney – found that sport performers in coping training skills training groups reduced their pre-competitive somatic and cognitive anxiety responses o Adolescents coped by engaging in exercise behaviour (to manage SPA) o Self-handicapping defined as “any action or choice of performance setting that enhances the opportunity to externalize failure and internalize success”  Use self-handicapping strategies likely to diminish efforts during competition, select unattainable goals to achieve, exaggerate the pain associated with an injury, or complain illegitimately about the fairness of the referee in order to confuse whether performance failure is due to athletic ability or due to external problems that the athlete had to manage o Athletes also have higher intensity levels of trait and SA – viewed as facilitative o Elevations in intensity of anxiety responses in athletes and exercisers associated with  Novice expertise  Being female  High TA  Low self-confidence (and low self-efficacy) in individual and team competencies  Negative or poor self-presentational beliefs  Poor self-regulatory skills  Use of self-handicapping strategies Environment-Based Sources of Anxiety  Temporal Patterning in the Sport Environment o Intensity of an athlete’s anxiety response changes during lead-up to a competitive event as well as over the course of the event o Martens & colleagues – 1) somatic anxiety remains at low intensity until several hours prior to competition after which there is a sharp rise until onset of performance. 2) During and after competition, the intensity level of somatic anxiety decreases. 3) Cognitive anxiety demonstrates a different pattern unless there is a change in athlete’s evaluation of potential for success o Intensity of competitive anxiety responses is not just affected by the temporal phase of competition
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