Cooke, Andrew Michael (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis investigates potential psychophysiological mechanisms to explain the effects of competition on performance. In the first experiment novice participants undertook a golf putting task under varying levels of competitive pressure. Fewer putts were holed with increased competitive pressure. Mediation analyses revealed that effort, muscle activity and lateral clubhead acceleration were responsible for the decline in performance. In the second experiment, expert golfers completed a putting task under varying levels of competitive pressure. Results indicated that increased competitive pressure improved performance, in terms of how close putts finished to the hole. Mediation analyses revealed that effort and heart rate partially mediated improved performance. In the third experiment, participants undertook a handgrip endurance task in competitive and non-competitive conditions. Results indicated that endurance performance was greater during competition. Enjoyment fully mediated whereas effort and heart rate variability partially mediated the effects of competition on performance. In the final experiment, participants undertook a handgrip endurance task in individual and team competitions. Endurance performance was better during team competitions. Mediation analyses revealed that enjoyment and effort mediated the effects of competition on performance. These findings are discussed in relation to processing efficiency, reinvestment, and enjoyment-based theories of the competition–performance relationship.
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