Theories of Arousal

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  • Theories of Arousal
    • Drive theory
      • Based on the work of Hull.
      • As arousal increases so does performance P=f (DxH).
      • Proportional linear relationship between arousal and performance.
      • However, it is unrealistic to say that performance continues improving with increased drive.
        • At high arousal, less information is processed and the performer tends to focus on their dominant approach.
          • Dominant response= The stand-out response that the performer thinks is correct
            • Novice- dominant response is not developed so poor performance increases.
              • Expert- dominant response is correct so performance remains high.
                • A03- Not all elite performers improve as a result of increased arousal.
                  • It also treats all sports the same
                    • Unrealistic to suggest performance keeps improving
                    • A03- Simplistic to understand
                      • Accurate in most situations
    • Inverted U theory
      • Based on the work of Yerkes and Dobson
        • As arousal increases, so does performance to an optimal point. Then performance gradually decreases.
      • The optimum level can vary depending on skill level, personality and the task.
        • The 'U' shifts based on different factors. It shifts to the right for an extrovert and to the left for an introvert.
          • A03- Performance could decrease abruptly- not necessarily gradually.
            • The performer may recover from a decrease in performance.
            • A03- It says that there is an optimum point.
              • Clearly states that it can vary from person to person- it isn't a universal theory.
                • It considers a range of sports
    • Catastrophe theory
      • Based on the work of Fazey and Hardy
        • As arosual increases so does performance to an optimum point, but then there is a dramatic reduction in performance (known as choking).
          • The slump in performance is due to high somatic and cognitive anxiety.
            • The player would try to regain control,  if anxiety is mild then they could recover and return to optimal performance.
              • A03- A performer may recover but their performance might not return to optimal.
                • It is not individualised
                • A03- It explains the concept of choking.
                  • It considers both somatic and cognitive anxiety
                    • Explains that a performer can recover.
    • The Zone of Optimal Functioning
      • Based on the works of Hanin.
        • Increases in arousal can improve performance to a zone of optimal arousal.
          • A zone is an area of controlled arousal and high performance
            • A03- It could be hard to find the zone
              • Also hard to get every player in their zone
              • A03- It is individualised
                • The zone makes it more realistic than the other theories.
      • In order to find a 'zone' techniques such as mental practice, relaxation, visualisation and positive self talk can be used.
        • Once in the zone, everything flows effortlessly and the athlete is in total control, therefore reaches a state of supreme confidence.


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