Comparing and Contrasting two theoretical views on arousal/performance relationship in the sports context.

Essay by uwivictimUniversity, Bachelor's December 2004

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The two theoretical views on the relationship between arousal and performance in the sports context are the Drive theory and the Inverted-U theory but first, we define arousal and performance in sports context.

The relationship between physiological arousal and motor performance has been of interest to psychologist since the early 1900's. Research led to the development of the two theories stated above. Arousal is a requisite for optimal sport performance. It has more often been defined physiologically as the intensity of behaviour on a continuum from sleep to extensive excitement.

Proponents of the Inverted-U argue that the relationship between arousal and sport performance is nonlinear, that is, not inline or uniform. They believe that the highest levels of performance occur when individuals are moderately aroused, while the lowest levels of performance are associated with exceptionally low and high arousal. Since this pattern of effects was first presented in their research, the Inverted-U theory is often referred to as the Yorkes-Dodson Law (1908).

The Inverted-U theory has received a lot of general psychology and sport psychology research sport support. Many of the studies supporting the Inverted-U theory operationally defined arousal as anxiety. Apparently, these authors were meaning or referring to somatic anxiety - physiological arousal dimensions of anxiety. The Inverted-U theory predicts that moderate levels of somatic anxiety, that is, arousal, are associated with the highest levels performance, while exceptionally low and high levels of somatic anxiety result in lower levels of performance. This line of reasoning is consistent with the arguments of Martin et. Al (1990) who notes that arousal is often operationalized as somatic anxiety, and that in instances the anxiety/performance relationship should resemble an inverted-U curve. The work of Martens and Landers (1970) offers further support for the notion that somatic anxiety and arousal are linked in their...