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ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:Emotion and Mood

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Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Lesson 18
ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS
In explaining the relationship between anxiety, arousal, and stress, and their relationship to athletic performance,
it is important that we understand a number of conceptual relationships. This topic is divided into six sections,
they are:
Differentiating among the terms anxiety, arousal and stress
The multidimensional nature of anxiety
Antecedents of anxiety
Measurement of anxiety
Time-to-event nature of precompetitive anxiety
The relationship between anxiety and performance
Three sections are discussed in this lecture and the remaining four in lecture nineteen.
Differentiating Among Anxiety, Arousal, and Stress
The emotion of anxiety affects athletic performance, however, the problem is that the term "anxiety" is closely
associated with the terms "arousal" and "stress". We will look how these terms are similar and how they differ.
The discussion will focus upon emotions and mood, Selye's concepts of stress, and Lazarus's concept of stress
process.
Emotion and Mood
Lazarus (2000a) identified fifteen different emotions and themes associated with each emotion. One of these
emotions is anxiety, which is defined as "facing uncertain, existential threat". An emotion, such as anxiety
occurs following appraisal and an evaluation of coping resources. A similar chain of events occurs for the
emotion of anger, which he defines as occurring in response to "a demeaning offense against me or mine"
Lazarus identifies anxiety as one of the emotions that may have substantial impact upon how an athlete
performs. Other emotions, such as anger, guilt and shame, relief, happiness, and pride, may also have a powerful
influence upon performance. He states that emotions should not be lumped into positive or negative groups
when one is assessing their effect upon athletic performance. Rather, the different emotions should be
considered as discrete emotions having discrete effects upon performance. Anger, for example, is often
considered a negative emotion, yet it may have either an inhibitory or a facilitory effect upon performance.
Anxiety, then, is an emotion that arises in response to how we in interpret and appraise an environmental
situation such as competition. Emotions are sudden reactions to situation that last only for seconds, minutes, or
perhaps hours. Moods, however, are more diffuse, and may last for weeks or even months.
Selye's Concept of Stress
Hans Selye (pronounced "sale-ye") (1983) defined stress as the "nonspecific response of the body to any
demand made upon it." In a sense what Selye is saying is that when aroused, the body is under stress regardless
of whether the cause is something negative like anger or positive like joy. Anger and anxiety are much harder on
the body than are joy and happiness.
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Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Selye allowed that there must be two different kinds of stress. The "good stress" he labeled eustress, and
the "bad stress" he labeled distress.
The Stress Process
The stress process is really the information processing model in action as illustrated in the diagram
below. The stress process begins with the stimulus (competitive situation) on the left and results in the
response (stress response) on the right. In between the stimulus and the response is cognition, or
thought processes. Cognition determines how the athlete will respond. The stress process begins with the
environment or competitive situation on the left. This is the stimulus. The competitive situation is not by
itself stressful. It is how the athlete interprets the situation that determines whether or not the situation is
stressful or not. Consider the situation in which an athlete finds himself on the foul line in a basketball
game with the outcome of the game resting upon performance. To most people this would be an
extremely stressful situation. However, to many basketball players this is exactly the kind of situation that
they seek. The situation is not intimidating because they have supreme confidence in their skill and the
thought of failure does not enter into their minds.
Response
Stimulus
Appraisal of Situation
(imbalance)
Stress response
1. Primary
Environmental
2. Secondary
Upon being confronted with a potentially stressful situation, the individual conducts an instantaneous
appraisal or evaluation of the situation. Appraisal of the situation occurs on two levels. The first is
referred to as primary appraisal; the second is as secondary appraisal. In primary appraisal, the athlete
determines if she has a personal stake in the outcome. If the athlete determines that the outcome is very
important to her, then secondary appraisal becomes important.
In the secondary appraisal, the athlete evaluates her personal coping resources to deal with the
competitive situation. The outcomes of the primary and secondary appraisals determine whether the
stress response will or will not occur.
If an athlete determines either that it makers no difference to him personally, then the stress response
does not occur. If, however, the athlete determines that he does not have the resources (skill, confidence,
experience) to cope with the situation, the stress response will occur.
The Multidimensional Nature of Anxiety
Anxiety is multidimensional in two different ways. Anxiety has both a trait component and a state
component. The trait component is like a personality disposition, whereas the state component is a
situation-specific response. State anxiety is an immediate emotional state that is characterized by
apprehension, fear, tension, and an increase in physiological arousal. Conversely, trait anxiety is a
predisposition to perceive certain environmental situations as threatening and to respond to these
situations with increased state anxiety (Spielberger, 1971). If an athlete has a high level of competitive
trait anxiety, she is likely to respond to an actual competitive situation with a high level of competitive
state anxiety.
Anxiety is also multidimensional in the sense that it is believed that there are both cognitive and somatic
components to anxiety. Cognitive anxiety is the mental component of anxiety caused by such things as
fear of negative social evaluation, fear of failure, and loss of self-esteem. Somatic anxiety is the physical
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Sport Psychology (PSY407)
component of anxiety and reflects the perception of such psychological responses as increased heart rate,
respiration, and muscular tension. Both state and trait anxiety are believed to have cognitive and somatic
components. Sport psychological literature, and the notion that anxiety has both cognitive and somatic
components is referred as multidimensional anxiety theory.
Antecedents of Precompetitive State of Anxiety
Competitive state anxiety that occurs prior to a competitive situation is referred to as precompetitive state of
anxiety. According to Endler (1978, 1983), there are five specific antecedents, or factors that lead to an increase
in anxiety in anticipation of an achievement situation. These five factors are:
Fear of performance failure. Fear of getting defeated by a weaker opponent could pose a threat to
1.
an athlete's ego.
Fear of negative social evaluation. Fear of being evaluated negatively by thousands of spectators
2.
could pose a threat to self-esteem.
Fear of physical harm. Fear of being hit in the hit in the head by a 90 mph fastball could pose a
3.
serious threat.
Situation ambiguity. Not knowing if she is going to start a match is sometimes stressful to an
4.
athlete.
Disruption of well-learned routine. Being asked to change the way he does things without practice
5.
and warming could be threatening to an athlete.
Research has identified fear of failure and fear of negative social evaluation as the most likely causes of state
anxiety. Another antecedent of state anxiety is the perceived importance of a competition. Athletes who exhibit
high levels of competitive trait anxiety and perceive an event to be important are more likely to perceive it as
stressful. In addition to situation factors as identified, a number of personality variables have been identified as
being antecedents, or predictors, of competitive state of anxiety. These include:
1.
Competitive trait anxiety: Those high on anxiety are also high on anxiety in competition.
2.
Goal orientation: High on goal orientation are high on anxiety.
3.
Perfectionism: Expecting perfection from self.
Perfectionism involves the setting of exceptionally high performance standards for one's self. Researchers have
identified two specific types of perfectionism: normal and neurotic. Normal perfectionism is typically possessed
by highly motivated and achieving athlete. Conversely, neurotic perfectionism is a destructive personal
characteristic that is associated inflexibility and a variety of other maladaptive cognitions and affective responses
such as low self-esteem, guilt and shame.
References
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York: McGraw-
Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary Themes. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers
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Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  6. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTIONS IN COMPETITIVE SITUATIONS:Locus of Causality
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  8. FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE, Goal Setting in Sport
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  17. SITUATIONAL FACTORS RELATED TO ANXIETY AND MOOD:Type of Sport
  18. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:Emotion and Mood
  19. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:The Inverted-U Theory
  20. ALTERNATIVES TO INVERTED-U THEORY:Apterís Reversal Theory
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants