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Application of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis to Endurance Performance: Does Frowning Modulate Perception of Effort?

McCormick, Alister, Meijen, Carla, Pageaux, Benjamin, Marcora, Samuele Maria (2016) Application of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis to Endurance Performance: Does Frowning Modulate Perception of Effort? In: British Psychological Society Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference, Cardiff, Wales 2016, 12-13 Dec 2016, Cardiff, Wales. (Unpublished) (KAR id:61882)


Objectives: People frown during strenuous exercise. Research on the facial feedback hypothesis raises the intriguing

possibility that frowning may modulate (i.e., amplify/soften) perception of effort during endurance performance and

therefore play a causal role in endurance performance. This study examined whether intentionally frowning

throughout a cycling time-to-exhaustion test increased perception of effort and, consequently, reduced time to

exhaustion. This study also examined the effects of frowning on affective states experienced during performance

and after exhaustion.

Design: A randomised, controlled, crossover experimental design was used to compare (within-subjects) the effects

of frowning with control conditions.

Methods: Ten recreational endurance athletes performed cycling time-to-exhaustion tests in three conditions. In a

frowning condition, participants frowned throughout the time-to-exhaustion test. In a matched-workload control

condition, participants pressed their thumb against the ergometer handlebar throughout the test. Electromyography

biofeedback was used to deliver these interventions. There was also a no-intervention control condition. Perception

of effort and exercise-related affect were measured throughout the time-to-exhaustion test, and positive and

negative affective states were measured before and after the test.

Results: Intentionally frowning did not affect perception of effort, affective states experienced while cycling or after

exhaustion, or time to exhaustion.

Conclusions: Frowning may not modulate perception of effort or affective responses during endurance exercise to

exhaustion. Although additional research using different methods would allow firmer conclusions to be drawn, these

findings suggest that interventions that target the expression of a frown would be unlikely to offer an efficacious

method of improving endurance performance.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Speech)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: C. Meijen
Date Deposited: 30 May 2017 08:43 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:45 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Meijen, Carla.

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Marcora, Samuele Maria.

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