Measurement and validation of a three-factor hierarchical model of competitive anxiety

Eleri S. Jones, Richard Mullen, Lew Hardy

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Objectives: The current study aimed to extend Cheng, Hardy, & Markland’s (2009) research and provide further evidence regarding their hierarchical model of performance anxiety. This model was characterized by six first order constructs, with worry, private self-focus and public self-focus representing cognitive anxiety, somatic tension and autonomous hyperactivity representing physiological anxiety and perceived control representing the regulatory dimension. It was hypothesized that these six first order constructs were formative indicators of the second order factors and this hypothesis was tested using Partial Least Squares analysis. 
Design: Factor validity of the original hierarchical model proposed by Cheng et al. was investigated. Subsequently, items were refined and the hierarchical model was extended and factor and predictive validity investigated further.
Method: Prospective data was collected from three samples (N= 174, 516, 43), and a series of factor analysis was conducted including Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Partial Least Squares (PLS). To explore the predictive validity of the model a MANOVA was conducted, using a measure of performance as the independent variable.
Results: The original model revealed a poor fit, with poor item loadings and discriminant validity. Subsequent analysis established a 25 item measure, which produced support for a fully differentiated hierarchical model of performance anxiety. The MANOVA results revealed a significant effect for the control factor, with those achieving good performance reporting significantly higher levels of perceived control. 
Conclusions: A fully differentiated hierarchical model was supported, which crucially depicts the first order factors of performance anxiety that form the three second order dimensions. This provides a model that fits more in line with theory testing and provides a more refined diagnosis tool for applied sport psychologists.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberS1469029218300220
Pages (from-to)34-44
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Issue numberJuly 2019
Early online date23 Dec 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Dec 2018


  • Cognitive anxiety
  • Hierarchical model
  • Partial least squares
  • Worry
  • Self focus


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