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The Effects of Elevated Arousal and Mood on Maximal Strength Performance in Athletes

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 12:44 authored by Perkins, DN, Wilson, GV, Kerr, JH
Optimal arousal models contend that high arousal contributes to inhibited athletic performance, whereas there is reversal theory research which indicates that high positive arousal may enhance performance. To test these claims, 22 male and 6 female elite athletes were induced into high arousal telic (goal-directed) and high arousal paratelic (non goal-directed, process focussed) motivational states and tested on a standard hand strength task. Personalized guided imagery techniques and paced breathing were used to change psychological and physiological arousal. Significant increases in strength performance occurred when arousal was high and experienced as pleasant excitement in the paratelic condition (i.e., high positive arousal). Heart rate and other indicators of parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system activity were not found to mediate between psychological arousal and performance. Where athletic performance requires maximal motor strength over a short period, performance benefits of high arousal may be maximized by restructuring motivational state.


Publication title

Journal of Applied Sport Psychology








School of Psychological Sciences


Taylor & Francis Inc

Place of publication

Philadelphia, USA

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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