Performance Anxiety in Sport: Revisiting the Process Goal Paradox and Measurement Development

  • Eleri Jones

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis addressed two issues within the performance anxiety literature. The first half of this thesis examined the use of holistic process goals relative to part process goals. The second half of the thesis examined issues associated with the measurement of performance anxiety. The aims of the thesis were to: (a) establish further support for the efficacy of holistic process goals over part process goals, (b) investigate athletes' cognitive anxiety responses to a stressful event, and (c) develop and test a measure of performance anxiety. The thesis comprised of four empirical studies that utilised a range of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches. Study 1 examined holistic process goals and part process goals in learning, retention and transfer test, whilst study 2 examined both process goals for skilled but anxious athletes. Study 2 also included two psychophysiological measures. The findings of study 1 and 2 provide support for the efficacy of holistic process goals, but provided no evidence that part process goal impaired performance. As such, the measurement of performance anxiety was highlighted as a potentially limiting factor in experimental designs. Therefore, the second half of the thesis focused on addressing this issue. Specifically, study 3 used qualitative interviews to explore the cognitive dimension of the athletes' performance anxiety response. The study revealed that the cognitive dimension contained worry, private self-focus and public self-focus components. Subsequently, study 4 presents a re-examination of Cheng, Hardy, and Markland's (2009) model of performance anxiety using a hierarchical structure of three second order dimensions and six first order subcomponents. The results of partial least squares structural analysis supported a fully differentiated hierarchical model of performance anxiety. Therefore, the results of this thesis provide further support for the efficacy of holistic process goals and a re-conceptualization of performance anxiety.
    Date of AwardMay 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRichard Mullen (Supervisor)


    • Sports
    • Psychological aspects.

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