The contribution of coping related variables and cardiac vagal activity on performance under pressure.

Mosley, E., 2019. The contribution of coping related variables and cardiac vagal activity on performance under pressure. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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Abstract

Successful performance under pressure requires effective psychophysiological self- regulation. It is suggested that activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, termed cardiac vagal activity, is a marker of self-regulation as theorised by the neurovisceral integration model (Thayer et al. 2009). This psychophysiological marker has been shown to be sensitive to pressure and help facilitate performance in pressurised situations. Research examining cardiac vagal activity has started to incorporate subjective coping related variables (trait emotional intelligence, reinvestment, cognitive appraisal, attention) in a combined approach. This approach develops a holistic understanding of the psychophysiological reactions that occur under pressure and ultimately how this influences performance. As a result, this research has two main aims. Firstly, to understand the contribution of coping related variables on cardiac vagal activity throughout a pressurised task. Secondly, to understand the contribution of coping related variables and cardiac vagal activity on performance under pressure. This thesis employed an experimental approach whereby three empirical studies were conducted. The first examined coping related variables and cardiac vagal activity in cognitive performance. Athletes (n=49) realized a working memory task under low and high pressure conditions. Findings demonstrated that individuals who had higher cardiac vagal activity at rest were more likely to have higher cardiac vagal activity throughout the pressurised task. Cardiac vagal recovery from pressure was negatively affected by the likelihood to think back to past decisions, through the trait of decision reinvestment under high pressure. Performance was predicted by task cardiac vagal activity in the high pressure condition only. The second study examined the same variables in a psychomotor task. Athletes (n=51) competed in a dart throwing task in high and low pressure conditions. As in study one, individuals who had higher cardiac vagal activity at rest were more likely to have higher cardiac vagal activity throughout the pressurised task. Performance was predicted by attention in the high pressure condition only, suggesting attentional resources were placed under more demand in the high pressure condition. Unlike in study one, cardiac vagal activity did not play a role in the prediction of performance. This demonstrated that tasks that are not solely based on executive functioning may not benefit from higher levels of cardiac vagal activity. The third and final study examined the same variables in 38 prone rifle shooting athletes, during a simulated rifle competition under both high and low pressure. Task cardiac vagal activity was predicted by trait emotional intelligence self-control in both low and high pressure conditions, further supporting the use of cardiac vagal activity as a marker for self-regulation under pressure. Cardiac vagal recovery was impaired by poor performance which highlighted psychophysiological relationships between performance outcome and cardiac vagal recovery. This research makes a novel contribution to psychophysiological theory through the use of a combined approach using objective and subjective measures to predict performance. Moreover, research findings suggest phasic patterns of cardiac vagal activity may be task dependant and should be investigated further to extend current theory. From a methodological perspective, adopting a systematic approach to measuring both tonic and phasic cardiac vagal activity will help to standardize future research in the field. Finally, findings from this research will encourage practitioners to use psychophysiological measures to further understand performance under pressure.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:pressure; self-regulation; HRV
Group:Faculty of Management
ID Code:31736
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:06 Feb 2019 10:10
Last Modified:06 Feb 2019 10:10

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