Examining a Three-Dimensional Model of Competitive State Anxiety in Sport

  • Charlotte Hillyard

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Within the sport psychology literature, it has been widely documented that experiencing competitive state anxiety does not always lead to performance impairments. Taking this into consideration,a three-dimensional model explaining the potential adaptive nature of anxiety was proposed by Cheng et al. (2009); however, little research has tested this model since its development. Subsequently, this thesis reassessed the measurement model because of limitations found in previous measurement model specifications (Cheng et al., 2009; Jones et al., 2019) and examined the model in relation to sport performance. Specifically, Study 1 addressed the limitations of formative measurement used in previous studies and developed the Three Factor Anxiety Inventory-2 (TFAI-2) by examining the factor structure of possible bifactor models using Bayesian structural equation modelling (BSEM). Two different participant samples provided support for a bifactor model with five specific factors (worry, private self-focus, public self-focus, physiological anxiety and perceived control) and one general factor, cognitive anxiety, that encompassed the items reflecting worry, private and public self-focus. Study 2 provided further support for this bifactor model and explored the predictive validity of the three main dimensions within the context of invasion game team sports and Finnish baseball. The findings revealed extreme evidence for perceived control predicting athletes’ self-rated performance within the team sport participant sample and batting performance within the Finnish baseball participant sample over and above cognitive and physiological anxiety; however,the hypothesised impact of interaction effects was not supported. Study 3 examined the impact of high and low levels of perceived control on cognitive anxiety, physiological anxiety, effort, and netball shooting performance in simulated high and low anxiety conditions. Analyses revealed no differences between participants in the low anxiety condition. In the high anxiety condition, both high and low perceived control groups reported significant increases in heart rate and cognitive anxiety. However, participants in the high perceived control group maintained their perceptions of control, netball shooting performance and significantly increased their effort, while those in the low perceived control group maintained their effort but experienced significant decreases in their perceptions of control and performance. In light of the findings herein, this thesis provides a unique and significant contribution to the research area in four main ways: (1) it developed the TFAI-2 and supported the factor structure with three different participant samples; (2) the findings suggest that perceived control is as important to understanding the anxiety-performance relationship as cognitive and physiological anxiety; (3) the first experimental study grounded in Cheng et al.’s three dimensional model of competitive anxiety was developed; and (4) many methodological recommendations, such as implementing Bayesian statistics were adopted throughout. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the methodological, theoretical, and practical implications, strengths and limitations, and directions for future research.
    Date of Award15 Dec 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Shearer (Supervisor) & Richard Mullen (Supervisor)

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