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Title: The performance consequences, and manipulation, of challenge and threat states
Author: Turner, Martin James
Awarding Body: Staffordshire University
Current Institution: Staffordshire University
Date of Award: 2013
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In the Theory of Challenge and Threat States in Athletes (TCTSA) it is proposed that on approach to motivated performance situations an individual can respond in a challenge state or a threat state. Challenge and threat states are marked by contrasting patterns of psychological, emotional, and cardiovascular (CV) responses. A challenge state is proposed to maintain or facilitate performance compared to a threat state. The aim of this thesis was to examine the relationships between competitive performance, and the psychological, emotional, and CV indices of challenge and threat states, and to examine the use of task instructions to manipulate challenge and threat states. Five quantitative studies were completed: three studies examined the relationships between challenge and threat states and performance using correlational methods, and two studies examined the manipulation of challenge and threat states using between-groups methods. Overall, challenge and threat CV reactivity were related to performance, and in particular, challenge CV reactivity was consistently related to superior performance compared to threat CV reactivity, in support of the TCTSA. In addition, task instructions were able to manipulate challenge and threat CV reactivity by employing the resource appraisals as posited in the TCTSA. To expand, challenge task instructions which promoted high self-efficacy, high perceived control, and a focus on approach goals, led to challenge CV reactivity, and threat task instructions which promoted low self-efficacy, low perceived control, and a focus on avoidance goals, led to threat CV reactivity. However, contrary to the TCTSA, self-reported psychological and emotional states were not related to CV reactivity or performance in the first three studies, and yielded no differences between challenge and threat conditions in the last two studies. Measurement flaws, response bias, and the notion of unconscious appraisal processes are discussed as explanations of the counter theoretical self-report findings. This thesis makes an original contribution to the field of stress and emotion, as it evidences the relationships between CV responses to motivated performance situations and performance in a range of tasks and using a range of samples, and for the first time, uses the TCTSA as a framework for promoting a challenge state.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: C800 Psychology