State anxiety and motor performance: Testing the conscious processing hypothesis

Richard Mullen, Lew Hardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has argued that skills acquired explicitly are more likely to fail under stressful conditions than skills that have been learned implicitly. The present study addressed an alternative explanation for the robustness under stress of implicit task performance. As implicit learners acquired the skill of golf putting while generating random letters, it is possible that they became desensitized to self-generated verbalizations and thus immune to the effects of competitive anxiety. We tested this interpretation while controlling for a further rival hypothesis generated by Eysenck’s Processing Efficiency Theory. We also examined the effect of increased state anxiety on the kinematic processes underlying performance breakdowns. For task performance, we found evidence that partially supported the conscious processing hypothesis, while the results of the kinematic analysis of the putting stroke were equivocal. Analysis of self-reported effort scores provided partial support for processing efficiency theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-799
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • explicit knowledge
  • processing efficiency
  • stress


Dive into the research topics of 'State anxiety and motor performance: Testing the conscious processing hypothesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this