Cardiovascular indices of challenge and threat states predict competitive performance

Int J Psychophysiol. 2012 Oct;86(1):48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Aug 21.


Cardiovascular (CV) reactivity is proposed by both the Biopsychosocial Model and the Theory of Challenge and Threat States in Athletes to predict competitive performance. The association between CV reactivity and competitive performance was examined in cognitive (Study 1) and motor (Study 2) tasks. In Study 1, 25 participants (9 female) completed a modified Stroop Test, and in Study 2, 21 female netballers completed a netball shooting task, under competition. Measures of CV reactivity, self-report measures of self-efficacy, control, achievement-goals and emotions along with baseline and competitive task performance were taken. CV reactivity indicative of a challenge state predicted superior performance in both tasks compared to CV reactivity indicative of a threat state. In both studies the purported relationships between CV reactivity and the psychological and emotional responses were weak or absent. The mechanisms for the observed association between CV reactivity and task performance are discussed alongside implications of the findings for future research and practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Basketball / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Electric Impedance
  • Electrocardiography
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sports / psychology
  • Stroop Test
  • Surveys and Questionnaires