Evaluating stress as a challenge is associated with superior attentional control and motor skill performance: Testing the predictions of the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat

Vine, Samuel J. and Freeman, Paul and Moore, Lee J and Chandra-Ramanan, Roy and Wilson, Mark R. (2013) Evaluating stress as a challenge is associated with superior attentional control and motor skill performance: Testing the predictions of the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 19 (3). pp. 185-194. ISSN 1076-898X

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Abstract

The biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat (Blascovich, 2008) suggests that individuals who evaluate a performance situation as a challenge will perform better than those who evaluate it as a threat. However, limited research has examined (a) the influence of challenge and threat evaluations on learned motor performance under pressure and (b) the attentional processes by which this effect occurs. In the present study 52 novices performed a motor task (laparoscopic surgery), for which optimal visual attentional control has been established. Participants performed a Baseline trial (when the task was novel) and were then trained to proficiency before performing under pressurized conditions designed to increase anxiety (Pressure). At Baseline, regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between challenge/threat evaluations and the outcome variables (performance, cardiovascular response, and visual attention). At Pressure, hierarchical regression analyses (controlling for the degree of learning) were performed to examine the relationship between challenge/threat evaluations and the outcome variables. At both Baseline and Pressure tests evaluating the task as more of a challenge was associated with more effective attentional control and superior performance. In the Baseline test, evaluating the task as more of a challenge was associated with differential cardiovascular responses. Although there is some support for an attentional explanation of differential performance effects, additional analyses did not reveal mediators of the relationship between challenge/threat evaluations and motor performance. The findings have implications for the training and performance of motor skills in pressurized environments (e.g., surgery, sport, aviation).

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Sport & Exercise > Sport and Exercise
Research Priority Areas: Sport, Exercise, Health & Wellbeing
Depositing User: Lee Moore
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 14:15
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2015 14:15
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/2876

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