In two similar experiments, Coombes, Janelle, and Duley (2005) gave 40 participants positive, negative, or neutral stimuli and recorded how it affected performance, using such metrics as heart rate, error rate, reaction time, and arousal. There are several take-away messages from the article. One minor albeit extremely interesting idea that was highlighted in the article was that one of emotion’s key functions is to prepare for action. The authors spoke to this through a Darwinian perspective, meaning that emotions had a significant influence evolution of humans. This perspective has not been discussed too much so far, but it is definitely worth further inquiry. One of the most applicable findings from the article is the idea that performance is shaped by the emotional state under which the action is executed. Specifically, that there are more errors in performance following exposure to unpleasant stimuli (negative affect). I think these findings are extremely applicable when it comes to coaching. Some coaches often resort to giving negative feedback, public criticism, and threatening and demeaning their athletes in an attempt to motivate them. Clearly, these ‘coaching’ methods can be categorized as negative stimuli to the athlete. According to this study, performers will increase their errors following negative stimuli. Could the lesson be more obvious to coaches? When providing athletes with negative stimuli, not only are these coaches breaking down their relationship with their athletes, but they are actually setting them up to fail and perpetuating the errors they are trying to prevent! This finding gives support to several concepts we have learned about positive feedback and how it is much more efficient and meaningful than corrective or negative feedback. Although this article was somewhat difficult to get through because its complicated vocabulary, I enjoyed it and I am definitely going to incorporate what I learned in this study into coaching in the future.

Advertisements