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Challenge and threat states in athletes: An overview of findings

Meijen, Carla, Jones, Marc V., Sheffield, David, McCarthy, Paul J. (2011) Challenge and threat states in athletes: An overview of findings. In: Proceedings of the 13th European Congress of Sport Psychology. . ISBN 978-972-98090-2-6. (KAR id:58557)


The theory of challenge and threat states in athletes (TCTSA) outlines that a challenge state, in contrast to a threat state, is characterised by high levels of self-efficacy and perceived control, approach goals, positive emotions, a helpful interpretation of emotional state and a cardiovascular reactivity pattern of increased cardiac output and decreased total peripheral resistance. Four studies were conducted to examine the relationship between the cognitive, affective and physiological components of challenge and threat states in a sport setting. These comprised a qualitative analysis of athletes’ interviews about an upcoming competition (study 1), a cross-sectional questionnaire study (study 2) and two studies where self-report data were associated with cardiovascular responses to an upcoming competition (study 3) or previous competition (study 4). Overall, the cognitive and affective components are largely supportive of the TCTSA, with a positive relationship between self-efficacy, perceived control and approach goals. Threat appraisal and anxiety were positively predicted by avoidance goals. Most of the physiological findings, however, were not in line with the predictions of the TCTSA. Specifically, participants who had high levels of self-efficacy appeared to be physiologically threatened by an upcoming competition. Study four did not show a consistent relationship between the cognitive, affective, and physiological components. Temporal patterning may be one of the main confounding factors for the inconsistent findings as the relationships between physiological, cognitive, and affective components all change in the lead up to competition. The presentation will conclude with an evaluation of the TCTSA and suggestions for further research.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation. Leisure > Sports sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: C. Meijen
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 14:17 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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