Performance breakdown under pressure among esports competitors

Sharpe, B. T., Obine, E., Birch, P. D. J., Pocock, C. and Moore, L. (2023) Performance breakdown under pressure among esports competitors. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. ISSN 2157-3905 (In Press)

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This study investigated the effects of psychological pressure on cognitive anxiety, challenge and threat appraisals, gaze behaviour, and action performance during an esport task among national- and university-level competitors. In Experiment 1, 90 participants (67 male, 23 female; Mage = 20.57 years, SD = 2.26), divided into national (n = 33) and university (n = 57) level competitors, completed an esport task under both low- and high-pressure conditions while anxiety, appraisals, gaze, and performance were assessed. Participants reported higher anxiety, threat appraisals, and displayed suboptimal gaze behaviour and poorer performance in the high-pressure condition than the low-pressure condition, and effects were stronger for university- than national-level competitors. In Experiment 2, the same protocol was repeated with 28 national-level competitors (25 male, 3 female; Mage = 22.01 years, SD = 4.35), using further ecologically valid adjustments to the pressure manipulation given the eliteness of participants (i.e., live audience, intra-round feedback, audience reactions), and the additional measurement of cognitive effort. Participants reported higher state anxiety, threat appraisals, and exhibited suboptimal gaze behaviour and poorer performance despite investing more cognitive effort. In line with pertinent theory (e.g., Integrative Framework of Stress, Attention, and Visuomotor Performance), the findings suggest that esport performance might breakdown under pressure due to elevated anxiety, threat appraisals, and disrupted gaze behaviour, even when more cognitive effort is mobilized.

Publication Type: Articles
Uncontrolled Keywords: anxiety, appraisals, effort, threat, stress
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Education, Social and Life Sciences > Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ben Sharpe
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2023 10:54
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2023 10:54

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