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Investigating the effects of irrational and rational self-statements on motor-skill and hazard-perception performance

Wood, AG and Turner, MJ and Barker, JB and Higgins, SJ (2017) Investigating the effects of irrational and rational self-statements on motor-skill and hazard-perception performance. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 6 (4). pp. 384-400. ISSN 2157-3905

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Abstract

© 2017 American Psychological Association. Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach based on the premise that when individuals are faced with adversity, irrational beliefs determine unhealthy negative emotions and maladaptive behaviors, whereas rational beliefs lead to healthy and adaptive alternatives. The detrimental effects of irrational beliefs on psychological health are established; however, less is known about their deleterious effects on human behavior and performance. In the present study, we examined the effects of irrational and rational self-statements on motor-skill performance (Experiment 1), performance effectiveness, and efficiency during a modified hazard-perception task, and on persistence during a breath-holding task (Experiment 2). Using a repeatedmeasures counterbalanced design, we recruited 2 cohorts of 35 undergraduate university students for Experiments 1 and 2, each participating in no self-statement, irrational, and rational self-statement conditions. Data indicated no differences in motor-skill and task performance, performance efficiency, task persistence, mental effort, and preperformance anxiety between irrational and rational self-statement conditions. In contrast to previous research, our findings provide insight into a juxtaposition that irrational beliefs hinder psychological health yet may help performance, highlighting important distinctions in factual and practical rationality that have been overlooked within the extant literature. The findings have important practical implications for practitioners who may look to REBT to enhance the psychological health and performance for individuals who operate in high-performance contexts. Further, the short-and longterm effects of irrational and rational beliefs on performance and psychological health warrants greater investigation.

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