Nonverbal behavior accompanying challenge and threat states under pressure

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Abstract

Objectives:

This study examined if challenge and threat states predicted nonverbal behavior during a pressurized soccer penalty task.

Design:

A predictive design was employed.

Method:

Forty-two participants (Mage = 24 years, SD = 7) completed the task. Before the task, challenge and threat states were assessed via demand resource evaluations and cardiovascular reactivity. During the task, nonverbal behavior was recorded, and later used to rate participants on six scales: (1) submissive–dominant, (2) unconfident–confident, (3) on edge–composed, (4) unfocused–focused, (5) threatened–challenged, and (6) inaccurate–accurate.

Results:

Participants who evaluated the task as a challenge (coping resources exceed task demands) were deemed more dominant, confident, composed, challenged, and competent from their nonverbal behavior than those who evaluated it as a threat (task demands exceed coping resources). Cardiovascular reactivity did not predict nonverbal behavior.

Conclusions:

Athletes' challenge and threat evaluations might be associated with nonverbal behavior under high-pressure.

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