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A test of the predictions of processing efficiency theory during elite team competition using the Thought Occurrence Questionnaire for Sport

Wilson, Mark and Smith, Nickolas C. (2007) A test of the predictions of processing efficiency theory during elite team competition using the Thought Occurrence Questionnaire for Sport. International journal of sport psychology, 38 (3). pp. 245-262. ISSN 0047-0767

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Abstract

The current study aimed to test the predictions of processing efficiency theory (PET) (Eysenck & Calvo, 1992) in an ecologically valid, team sport competition. Eighteen, elite female hockey players taking part in an international competition were categorised as either high or low trait anxious (HTA, LTA). Games were categorised as being either of high or low criticality, and players’ individual performance was assessed independently by two senior international coaches. Cognitive state anxiety, as indexed by the frequency of ‘performance worry’ cognitive intrusions, and subsequent mental effort expenditure were assessed using the Thought Occurrence Questionnaire for Sport (Hatzigeorgiadis & Biddle, 2000). While anxiety (p <.001) and effort (p <.001) were significantly greater in high criticality games, there was no significant change in performance (p >.05). As predicted by PET, performance was maintained at the expense of processing efficiency, and this effect was more marked in HTA individuals.

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