The Effects Of Exemplar Priming On Athletic Performance Success

The current study examines the effects of viewing positive and negative exemplars directly prior to an athletic performance task. It was hypothesized that participants who were given a positive exemplar (as opposed to the negative exemplar) would: perform worse in an athletic task, have lower levels of perceived control and state anxiety - positive, and higher levels of state anxiety - negative. Accordingly, it was predicted that greater perceived control would correlate with higher levels of performance, with recent findings supporting this view. Positive state anxiety was also studied to monitor how an athlete may use feelings of arousal to enhance performance. The participants included n = 269 undergraduate students from a local university who had a minimum level of previous basketball proficiency. Participants were asked to complete two sets of basketball free throws and given several questionnaires to fill out, including the Perceived Control scale (based on Otten, 2009), the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 Revised (Cox et al., 2003), and a new Competitive State Anxiety - Positive inventory. Participants in the experimental groups were shown pictures and text of professional basketball players who shot over 80% (positive exemplar), 75% (control), or below 50% (negative exemplar). As in Dijksterhuis et al. (1998), participants transcribed their reactions regarding these exemplars, and then were asked here to shoot the second of two rounds of free throws. Results were not demonstrative of differences across the exemplar conditions on performance, perceived control, or the state anxiety levels of the participants. There were positive correlations, however, between performance and perceived control, and perceived control and positive state anxiety. This study is intended to aid athletes, coaches, and trainers to better understand the antecedents of a successful performance under pressure.