THE EFFECT OF SELF-TALK ON ATTENTION ALLOCATION, PERCEPTION OF EFFORT, AND EXERCISE ENDURANCE
Tonya Nascimento, University of West Florida, USA
Theme: Life skills/learning strategies (includes coping)
Program ID: LEC-16D
Presentation: October 5, 2013 2:45 pm - 3:45 pm
Engagement in physical activity generates exertive sensations; at high enough intensities, these sensations eventually reach a high level of discomfort. The negative affective response may be partially to blame for the high rates of physical inactivity in the United States (Ekkekakis, 2011). Discomfort from physical effort appears to be dose-related and mediated by attention allocation (Tenenbaum, 2001). According to Tenenbaum’s model, during the early phases of the exercise task, attention is primarily dissociative and can easily switch between attention outward and attention inward. As exercise intensifies, attention shifts to primarily associative or inward focus; physiological factors dominant attention, and this marks imminent termination of the task. Researchers using this model investigate strategies for decreasing discomfort or effort perception during the dissociative phase and for delaying the shift from dissociative to associative attention (the D/A shift) in order to increase effort endurance. This study investigated self-talk as a strategy. Four self-talk conditions were used: motivational, instructional, task-irrelevant, and a control condition. Each participant used one type of self-talk during two different isometric tasks: a handgrip task and a leg extension task. The use of task-irrelevant self-talk delayed the D/A shift, led to decreased effort perception, and resulted in longer overall task endurance in comparison with the control condition. The use of instructional self-talk led to dissociative attention and delayed the D/A shift in comparison with the control condition, but did not decrease effort perception or lead to longer overall endurance. The use of motivational self-talk resulted in the longest task endurance at high intensities. Results lend support to Tenenbaum’s (2001) model and may aid in making suggestions for self-talk coping strategies that are appropriate for an exerciser’s goals, whether reducing effort perception, enduring longer on task overall, or enduring longer at higher intensity.