Anxiety • A negative emotional state characterised by nervousness, worry and apprehension and associated with activation and arousal of the body.
Arousal: a general physiological and psychological activation of the organism that varies on a continuum from deep sleep to intense excitement. Trait anxiety: an acquired disposition that predisposes a person to perceive a wide range of objectively non-dangerous circumstances as threatening and to respond to these with disproportionate state anxiety levels. State anxiety: moment to moment changes in feelings of nervousness, worry and apprehension associated with arousal of the body. Cognitive state anxiety: moment to moment changes in worries and negative thoughts. Somatic state anxiety: moment to moment changes in perceived physiological arousal.
Measuring arousal requires looking at changes in physiological signs e.g. HR, respiration, skin conductance and biochemistry. People can also rate their arousal with a series of statements. To measure state or trait anxiety psychologists use global and multidimensional self-report scales. E.g. CSAI-2 is the cognitive state anxiety inventory version 2. SCAT is the sport competition trait anxiety test. Measuring arousal and anxiety
Relationship between state and trait anxiety • Adirect (although not perfect) relationship exists between a person’s levels of trait and state anxiety. • Those who score highly on trait measure of anxiety also score highly on state measures of anxiety in evaluative situations. • A highly trait anxious athlete may be very experienced in a particular situation and for that reason not perceive a threat and therefore not suffer from state anxiety OR some highly trait anxious people learn coping strategies to reduce their state anxiety in evaluative situations. • Knowing a person’s level of trait anxiety will generally help to predict how they will behave in competition.
Stress • Stress is defined as: a substantial imbalance between demand (physical or psychological) and response capability, under conditions where failure to meet the demand has important consequences. (McGrath 1970)
Environmental demand (physical or psychological) Stage 1 Individual’s perception of the environmental demand. (amount of psychological or physical threat perceived) Stage 2 • Stress response (physical or psychological) • Arousal • State anxiety (cognitive and somatic) • Muscle tension • Attention changes Stage 3 Behavioural consequences (performance or outcome) Stage 4
Stage 1 A physical or psychological demand is placed on the individual. Stage 2 The individual makes a perception about the demand based on what they think their ability to meet the demand is. If the person perceives an imbalance between what is being asked and what they can do, the stress process continues. Trait anxious people tend to view more situations as threatening which has an influence at this stage. Explanation of stages
Stage 3 This is the individual’s physical and psychological response to the perception of the situation. If an imbalance between demands and response capability is perceived, there will be increased state anxiety, increased worries, heightened physiological activation, possible changes in concentration and increased muscle tension. Stage 4 This is the actual behaviour of the individual. Performance may decline due to the problems of state anxiety or improve because of increased intensity. This stage feeds back into the first stage. E.g. a pupil demonstrates in front of a class but fails, the others laugh and this then becomes another demand on the pupil, so the cycle continues. Explanation of stages
Responding to stress • Individuals all respond differently to stress but the most common psychological reactions are anger, apathy and anxiety. • Physiological reactions include activation of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, resulting in increased levels of adrenaline, blood sugar, HR and blood pressure (flight or fight response). • If stress is prolonged Seyle (1956) states that following the alarm reaction stage (noted above) there is a resistance stage where the body tries to revert to normal functioning thus coping with the increased adrenaline. • Continued stress results in exhaustion or collapse. Whilst trying to deal with the increased stress the body has gradually depleated its’ own resources. The adrenal cortex fails to function correctly and this results in physiological problems like ulcers, heart disease and high blood pressure. • This model is called the General Adaptation Model (GAS)
Causes of Stress • There are literally thousands of causes of stress, from major life events such as marrying or moving house to daily hassles like loosing your keys or the car breaking down. • For athletes there are factors like performing up to standard, financial costs or time for training, self doubt about talent or relationship issues with team mates or the coach.
Situational sources of stress Event Importance Generally the more important the event, the more stress provoking it is. E.g. a championship game over a regular season game. Uncertainty The greater the uncertainty about the outcome of the event the greater the stress. E.g. not knowing the starting line up for the game. Other sources include competition, frustration, conflict, personal, physiological/ climatic and the audience. Make notes about what these are under the above headings
Social Physique Anxiety • A personality disposition defined as ‘the degree to which people become anxious when others observe their physique’ (Hart, Leary and Rejeski 1989) • People with high social physique anxiety will experience stress during fitness evaluations and tend to avoid fitness situations.
Eustress (good stress) • Many sports performers e.g. rock climbers actively seek out sources of stress in order to test their capabilities to the limit. • Some claim that being in stressful situations helps the focus, pay attention and generally develop skills and enjoyment in the context of sport. • The positive benefits in terms of self satisfaction and enhanced intrinsic motivation gained from having coped with a stressful situation are seen as greater then the negative impact of stress.