This thesis attempted to further understanding of various aspects of the competitive
state anxiety response. The specific questions that were addressed in the five studies
reponed involve investigations into antecedents of competitive anxiety, temporal patterning,
additional dimensions to the anxiety response and relationships with performance.
Competitive anxiety was assessed in all of the studies by the Competitive State Anxiety
Inventory-2 (CSAI-2) which measures cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety and self-confidence.
The first two studies employed a purely quantitative approach whilst the final
three studies incorporated both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The first study
investigated situational factors which predict the CSAI-2 components in the specific
population of middle-distance runners. Cognitive anxiety· was predicted by three factors,
'Perceived Readiness', 'Attitude Towards Previous Performance' and 'Position Goal',
whilst self-confidence was predicted by 'Perceived Readiness' and 'External
Environment'. None of the factors predicted somatic anxiety. These results suggested that
cognitive anxiety and self-confidence share some common antecedents but that there are
also factors unique to each. The second study examined the temporal patteming of the
CSAI-2 components in the period leading up to competition as a function of gender.
Gender has previously been shown to mediate patteming of responses so that antecedents
were also examined in an attempt to explain such findings. Results showed that males and
females reported differential temporal patteming for cognitive anxiety and self-confidence
and that different antecedents predicted these variables. Significant predictors of cognitive
anxiety and self-confidence were associated with personal goals and standards in females
and interpersonal comparison and winning in males. The third and fourth studies
investigated the importance of additional dimensions to the competitive state anxiety
response in furthering understanding of the construct. These studies examined the
frequency and direction dimensions of anxiety and findings suggested that the intensity alone
approach currently employed is restrictive and that important information can be
gained from considering these other dimensions. The fifth study focused on the dimensions
of intensity and direction of anxiety and their specific relationship with sports performance.
Findings revealed that a direction dimension was a better predictor of basketball
performance than any of the intensity variables, further suggesting that future anxiety
research should measure this dimension.
Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.