Investigating a Conceptual Framework for Trash Talk: Cognitive and Affective States
The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework for studying a common sport phenomenon called Trash Talk (TT). Previous research findings reveal that alteration of emotional state affects both motivation (Boutcher, 1993; Silvia & Brehm, 2001) and performance (Hanin, 2000). It also reveals that distraction of attention has a direct influence on performing motor tasks (Abernethy, 2001). Thus, TT was considered here to affect the cognitive state of the recipient of TT by distracting his/her attention from the task, and at the same time decrease their motivation to compete by altering the affective state required for completing the task. Adult male and female athletes (n = 274) completed the TT Survey. A convenience sample of athletes was utilized in this study, which provided the opportunity to make preliminary explorations into the TT phenomenon. The TT survey is an original instrument developed specifically for this study corresponding to the theoretical scheme of TT. The survey was designed to explore the intentions and outcome perceptions of TT in the realm of competitive sport. The survey consisted of both closed and open-ended questions reflecting its exploratory nature. This necessitated the use of both quantitative (i.e., EFA, ANOVA) and qualitative (i.e., axial coding) research methods, which were used to collect and analyze data. Findings revealed that users of TT intended to attain an advantage over their opponent by simultaneously distracting their opponent and motivating themselves for the upcoming challenge. Users of TT perceived themselves as being highly effective when they employ TT as a feature of their competitive skill set. The recipients' perspective of TT was that it can sometimes negatively affect their cognitive and affective states during competition, and thus cause performance decline (Bandura, 1997; Lazarus, 2000; Vallerand, & Rousseau, 2001). However, when athletes responded from the recipient perspective they were more likely to refute the assertion that TT can have a significant impact on their athletic performance. There was support for the notion that TT can have paradoxical outcomes when used by athletes in competition. Results indicated that athletes, who face TT, might actually benefit from it (contrary to losing focus, or feeling a lack of motivation), in that their motivation and inspiration levels are elevated to a degree necessary for optimal performance (Hanin, 2000, Kamata, Tenenbaum, & Hanin, 2002). The study was also designed to explore which of the model's components athletes intend to affect most profoundly by using TT. The quantitative analysis resulted in one dimension emerged, consisting of emotions, cognitions, self-efficacy, and performance. Athletes could not distinguish among these components, and perceived them as an integrated dimension. This suggests rather than separating the affective, cognitive, self-efficacy, and performance components, TT should have a direct link to all of them simultaneously. The conceptual components in the model of TT were verified in this study using factor analysis of the survey responses completed by athletes. The data clearly show a prevalence of TT in the sports environment. TT can affect cognitive and affective states, and this simultaneously affects self-efficacy and performance. However, all the components that compose the model are more mutually dependent than expected, and results should be viewed from this perspective.
November 2, 2005.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Gershon Tenenbaum, Professor Directing Thesis; Alysia Roehrig, Committee Member; Marcy Driscoll, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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