Emotion and automaticity: Impact of positive and negative emotions on novice and experienced performance of a sensorimotor skill

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Attention was directed towards negative, neutral, and positive word stimuli to explore the effect of emotions on sensorimotor skill performance. Forty novice and 40 experienced basketballers simultaneously completed a free-throw shooting task and a secondary word semantics task. A manipulation check confirmed that the secondary task influenced participants' feelings. Both groups responded faster to neutral and positive words than negative words. Shooting performance of novices did not differ between experimental conditions, but experienced basketballers were more accurate when processing positive stimuli. It was concluded that directing attention towards positive emotion may have benefited sports performance by diverting attention away from execution of the primary task, promoting automatic skill execution by experienced basketballers.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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