Effects of anxiety on decision making and visual search behaviour in complex sport situations

Vater, Christian; Williams, Mark A. (31 March 2014). Effects of anxiety on decision making and visual search behaviour in complex sport situations. In: Schütz, Alexander C.; Drewing, Knut; Gegenfurtner, Karl R. (eds.) Abstracts of the 56th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (p. 268). Lengerich: Pabst

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Based on the Attentional Control Theory (ACT; Eysenck et al., 2007), performance efficiency is decreased in high-anxiety situations because worrying thoughts compete for attentional resources. A repeated-measures design (high/low state anxiety and high/low perceptual task demands) was used to test ACT explanations. Complex football situations were displayed to expert and non-expert football players in a decision making task in a controlled laboratory setting. Ratings of state anxiety and pupil diameter measures were used to check anxiety manipulations. Dependent variables were verbal response time and accuracy, mental effort ratings and visual search behavior (e.g., visual search rate). Results confirmed that an anxiety increase, indicated by higher state-anxiety ratings and larger pupil diameters, reduced processing efficiency for both groups (higher response times and mental effort ratings). Moreover, high task demands reduced the ability to shift attention between different locations for the expert group in the high anxiety condition only. Since particularly experts, who were expected to use more top-down strategies to guide visual attention under high perceptual task demands, showed less attentional shifts in the high compared to the low anxiety condition, as predicted by ACT, anxiety seems to impair the shifting function by interrupting the balance between top-down and bottom-up processes.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Movement and Exercise Science

UniBE Contributor:

Vater, Christian


700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment
100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology








Christian Vater

Date Deposited:

16 May 2014 09:50

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:33





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