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Challenge and threat states: An examination of variance components, interventions, and performance

Hase, Adrian (2019) Challenge and threat states: An examination of variance components, interventions, and performance. PhD thesis, University of Essex.


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This thesis reports on a systematic review and four empirical studies that examined cognitive and cardiovascular indicators of challenge and threat states as specified by the biopsychosocial model (Blascovich, 2008a). The overarching research aim was to provide novel insights into challenge and threat states including their variability between persons and situations, their responsiveness to interventions, and their relationship with performance. The systematic review found that a challenge state was associated with better performance than a threat state across various outcomes and research designs, indicating that the analysis of challenge and threat states may provide useful information for sport psychologists. The first two empirical studies indicated that challenge and threat states vary largely as a function of personal and person by situation interactional components, suggesting that these factors are promising targets for interventions. The next two studies showed that three established interventions for optimising performance by targeting psychological function (instructional and motivational self-talk) and physiological function (tyrosine supplement) did not promote a challenge state, but instead modified the relationship between challenge and threat states and performance. Precisely, tyrosine and instructional self-talk decreased performance differences between challenge and threat states, indicating a potential for helping athletes in a threat state. The interrelationships between cognitive and cardiovascular indicators of challenge and threat states and performance in the present research were inconsistent with those predicted by the biopsychosocial model, provoking discussion about the applicability of its predictions. Future research directions include conducting systematic reviews on outcomes other than performance; conducting research into dispositional variables and person by situation interactions to reveal new correlates of challenge and threat states; examining how interventions affect challenge and threat states and their relationship with performance; and more closely examining (moderators of) the interrelationships between cognitive challenge and threat evaluations, cardiovascular challenge and threat responses, and performance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Adrian Hase
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2019 08:08
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2019 08:08

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