Trash Talk in a Competitive Setting: Impact on Self-Efficacy, Affect, and Performance
Conmy, Oliver Benjamin, 1975- (author)
Tenenbaum, Gershon (professor directing dissertation)
Eklund, Robert C. (committee member)
Roehrig, Alysia (committee member)
Moffatt, Robert (outside committee member)
Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems (degree granting department)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
The experimental design utilized in this study tested the phenomenon of trash talk as the pivotal component under investigation. Madden™ NFL 08 Football video-game players (N = 40; Mean age = 20.68, SD = 2.00) were randomly assigned to two conditions in which they participated in two games of Madden™ NFL 08 Football. In the first condition (Silent-Talk) players conducted their first game in complete silence, and in the second game players were permitted to trash talk. This scenario was reversed for condition two (Talk-Silent), players being permitted to talk in the first game, and enforced to be silent for game two. All players in the study completed 5 separate measures for; Madden™ NFL 08 Football Self-Efficacy, Positive Affect (PA), and Negative Affect (NA). Players also completed a short trash talk survey and made two specific choices prior to a hypothetical "Game 3" which was never played. Choices related to a player's ability to talk or remain silent, and whether to permit their opponent to talk or to enforce them to remain silent in "Game 3." Measurements were taken immediately prior to each game played, after players had received their instructions for the game (Talk or Silence), immediately after games 1 and 2 had been played, and finally before the hypothetical "Game 3," which was not played. Results confirmed that the ability and freedom to trash talk in a competitive setting is considered extremely important by Madden™ NFL 08 video-game players. Players were adamant that trash talking was a motivational tool, which they used when competing in the game; almost all (95%) players admitted to using trash talk in physical sports environments outside the milieu of computer gaming. RM ANOVAs revealed several significant (p < .05) results for the variables of interest (self-efficacy, positive affect, negative affect, and performance), but not all in line with the stated hypotheses. Contrary to expectations, performance measures for specific talk and silent games revealed no discernible differences for scoring, rushing, or passing. Although non-significant (p < .05) effects were noted for experimental conditions in overall performance measures, winners differed from losers on these variables. Winning performance resulted in significantly better overall performance measures across both games, with the exception of game 1 and rushing yards. Players enforced to be silent in the first game (Silent-Talk condition) instantaneously exhibited lower self-efficacy, lower PA, and higher NA than players permitted to talk in game 1. Players' self-efficacy remained relatively consistent after winning game 1. However, players subsequently instructed to remain silent in the second game showed markedly decreased self-efficacy compared to players permitted to talk in game 2. All the losers in game 1 reported decreased self-efficacy scores following a loss. However, players permitted to talk in the second game showed a significant increase in efficacy compared to players who lost and were also instructed to be silent in game 2. Prior to the hypothetical "Game 3," after players' trash talk choices (i.e., talk or silence in "Game 3", both personally and for an opponent) had been made, self-efficacy displayed a sharp increase for both experimental conditions and outcome (win/loss). Winners in the talk-silent condition decreased in PA after game 1 and prior to game 2, in which they had to remain silent. However, this decrease was more pronounced for losers who displayed a consistent downward trend in PA following game 1, and prior to game 2 in which they were to remain silent. Winners in the silent-talk condition exhibited a gradual increase in PA throughout the first three measures. Losers reported a slight decline after losing game 1, but a marked increase in PA after being instructed to talk in game 2. Both experimental conditions resulted in a significant increase in PA after trash talk choices were made prior to "Game 3." This was replicated for winners and losers who both showed increased PA after their trash talk choices. Elevation in NA was noted for both winners and losers after game 1, but this increase was more acute for losers. Players in both conditions showed an increase in NA after game 1, and both conditions showed a very similar decrease in NA immediately prior to game 2. Winners in both conditions maintained very similar NA scores across the first three measures, whereas losers showed an increase in NA after game 1, before finally decreasing immediately prior to game 2. Across both conditions winners' NA decreased following game 2, whilst losers perceived NA increased distinctly. After trash talk choices were made, losers' NA decreased, whilst winners' NA unexpectedly increased. The majority (95%) of players chose to be free to talk in "Game 3" of the study. Unexpectedly, many players preferred not to enforce silence upon their opponent for "Game 3." Players who did choose to enforce silence upon their opponent most commonly did so when they had been victorious in the silent game played, or they had lost both of their games. The majority of players in the study felt that their enforced silence had helped their opponent. However, several players who won the silent game believed their enforced silence had no effect on their opponent. The order in which the games were played (Talk-Silent or Silent-Talk) dramatically impacted the amount of trash talk used in the 'talk' games. The silent-talk condition resulted in 58% more coded trash talk occurrences than the talk-silent condition. Two conceivable reasons were the potential to reference game 1 as a source of conversation, and the reluctance of players to trash talk a total stranger. Overall, results reveal self-efficacy was impacted by the freedom to trash talk, and by winning and losing in line with the hypotheses outlined at the inception of this study. Specifically, when permitted to talk and when winning games players experienced personal autonomy, a sense of control, and positive mastery experiences, which are all key tenets of bolstering self-efficacy (Bandura, 1992, 1997). As self-efficacy changed due to experimental conditions and outcome there were simultaneous effects on both PA and NA, which echoes previous research on self-efficacy expectations as a mediator to changes in affect (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). However, unlike self-efficacy, emotions (PA and NA) were less predictable and idiosyncratic, even when the outcomes or conditions were seemingly optimal (Boutcher, 1993; Robazza et al., 1998). Whereas self-efficacy measures appeared to remain contingent on experimental condition or outcome throughout the study, affect scores exhibited features which support the assertion that most significant emotions are invariably personal relevant, regardless of tangible outcomes (Hanin, 2000, 2007).
Trash Talk, Trash Talk Competition, Talk Sport, Self-Efficacy, Affect, Performance Talk
October 30, 2008.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Gershon Tenenbaum, Professor Directing Dissertation; Robert C. Eklund, Committee Member; Alysia Roehrig, Committee Member; Robert Moffatt, Outside Committee Member.
Florida State University
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