Arousal, Stress & Anxiety
is general physical and psychological activity. Anxiety
is a negative emotional state with feelings of worry, nervousness
and apprehension that is associated with the activation of the
body. Stress is an imbalance between
that demands that someone feels and his or her feelings of capably
to meet that demands - when failure of these demands has important
Arousal can affect performance
in many ways. There are several theories as to how stress
affects performance. These are summarized in the following:
1) Drive Theory: Drive theory states that the
more arousal and anxiety an individual experiences, the higher
their performance will be.
2) Inverted U Hypothesis: This theory posits
that their is a medium amount of arousal and anxiety that causes
one to perform higher - too little anxiety/arousal and too much
anxiety/arousal will cause performance to be poorer.
3) Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning:
This theory takes into account that people have different levels
of anxiety and arousal that are unique in making them perform
at their best. Some people perform their best with low anxiety,
some with a medium amount and others with a high amount. The amount
of anxiety/arousal that an individual requires to perform their
best is based on individual characteristics.
4) Multidimensional anxiety theory: This theory
of anxiety posits that when one has anxious thoughts - they will
have poorer performance. Anxiety felt by the body will have an
effect on performance much like that of the inverted U theory
(see above). However, there is little support for this theory.
5) Catastrophe Model: The catastrophe model
posits that as long as there are lower thoughts of anxiety, then
performance will be best at a medium level of physical arousal.
If there is a high level of anxious thoughts (worry), performance
will be better at a medium level of physical arousal but will
suddenly drop off and become very poor. There is a breaking point
when performance decreases dramatically.
6) Reversal Theory: This theory posits that
the way that arousal affects performance depends on an individual's
interpretation of their arousal. Arousal can be interpreted as
pleasant and exciting and as unpleasant and anxious. Arousal that
is thought to be pleasant helps performance, and vice versa for
7) Anxiety direction and intensity: This theory
states that how someone sees their own anxiety is important for
understanding the relationship of their anxiety to their performance.
Both the person's interpretation of the intensity (how much anxiety)
and the direction (whether the anxiety is helping or hindering
their performance) have to be considered. Therefore, viewing anxiety
as helpful leads to better performance.
Why Does Arousal Influence Performance?
You may be wondering what it is
exactly about arousal that is affecting performance. Arousal increases
muscle tension and affects co-ordination. Too much tension can
create difficulties. As well, it affects attention. However, attention
can become too narrow with too much arousal, and can make one
pay attention to too much in their environment when there is too
Signs of Arousal and Anxiety:
* Cold, clammy hands
* Constant need to urinate
* Profuse sweating
* Negative self-talk
* Dazed look in eyes
* Ill feeling
* Dry mouth
* Difficulties sleeping
* Increased muscle tension
* Butterflies in Stomach
* Inability to concentrate
* Better performance in situations where you are not being evaluated
Using this Information:
All of this information is useful
in that it can be used to increase athletes' performance. Psychologists
can identify what is the best combination of emotions needed for
good performance. Also one can recognize how personal things and
things about ones situation can interact to influence anxiety
and therefore performance. An athlete can recognize arousal and
anxiety signs. Coaches can tailor their strategies to different
individuals - and understand that state anxiety must be reduced,
increases or maintained at certain times.
There are certain personality
types that are associated with health
concerns - such as cardiovascular disease. One personality type
is called Type A and is associated with anger and hostility. It
has been seen that exercise and increased fitness seem to improve
these individuals health. As well, exercise and increased fitness
are associated with increases in self-esteem
- especially in low self esteem individuals.
Performance - PST
Aspects of PST