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December, 2006 Volume 8, Issue 4 Belief in Self-Talk and Dynamic Balance Performance Kaori Araki Waseda University, Japan Joseph K. Mintah Azusa Pacific University Mick G. Mack, Sharon Huddleston, Laura Larson, and Kelly Jacobs University of Northern Iowa ABSTRACT The literature on self-talk is primarily related to its use and effect on athletic performance (Hardy & Hall, 2005). Noticeably missing is research related to the user’s belief in self-talk. The purpose of the present study was two-fo
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    December, 2006Volume 8, Issue 4 Belief in Self-Talk andDynamic Balance Performance    Kaori Araki  Waseda University, Japan  Joseph K. Mintah   Azusa Pacific University  Mick G. Mack, Sharon Huddleston, Laura Larson, and Kelly Jacobs  University of Northern Iowa ABSTRACT   The literature on self-talk  is primarily related to its use and effect on athletic performance (Hardy& Hall, 2005). Noticeably missing is research related to the user’s belief  in self-talk. The purposeof the present study was two-fold. The first purpose was to examine the relationship betweenone’s belief in self-talk and performance. The second purpose was to examine the influence of positive and negative self-talk on performance. Undergraduate students (  N  = 125) performed astabilometer balance task and then completed two questionnaires. One questionnaire assessed thetype of self-talk used and the other assessed belief in self-talk. Results indicated that belief inself-talk was not significantly correlated with performance; however, those who used positiveself-talk performed significantly better than those who used negative/mixed self-talk. Theseresults suggested that the type of self-talk used (i.e., positive or negative) was more importantthan one’s belief in self-talk. Results supported previous literature indicating that techniquesdesigned to produce positive self-talk should be included in psychological skills trainingprograms.1  Introduction   Athletes’ use of cognitive strategies to control or modify certain psychological states is welldocumented in the literature (Weinberg & Gould, 2003). One commonly used strategy is self-talk  .Self-talk has been defined as “a multidimensional phenomenon concerned with athletes’verbalizations that are addressed to themselves” (Hardy, Hall, & Hardy, 2005, p. 905).Researchers have found that Olympic qualifiers and national team athletes used self-talk as amotivation strategy (Hardy, Gammage, & Hall, 2001), to augment skill acquisition (Landin &Hebert, 1999; Ming & Martin, 1996; Perkos, Theodorakis, & Chroni, 2002), for controllingattentional focus (Gould, Eklund, & Jackson, 1992; Landin & Hebert, 1999; Papaioannou,Ballon, Theodorakis, & Auwelle, 2004), and to enhance self-confidence (Landin & Hebert,1999). Equally important, self-talk has been found to effect performance (Highlen & Bennett,1983; Mahoney & Avener, 1977; Papaioannou et al., 2004; Van Raalte, Brewer, Rivera, &Petitpas, 1994).The type of self-talk generated by the user will, to a large extent, determine whetherperformance is improved or impaired. Dagrou, Gauvin, and Halliwell (1992) studied the effect of positive, negative, and neutral self-talk on dart throwing performance. Results indicated thatparticipants in the positive self-talk group outperformed those in the negative and neutral self-talk groups. In a similar study, Van Raalte et al. (1995) found the same results for individuals whoused positive self-talk on a dart-throwing task. Finally, Weinberg, Smith, Jackson, and Gould(1984) found that positive self-talk strategies increased performance on a muscular endurancetask.Researchers have also found negative self-talk to be linked with diminished performance fornovice dart throwers (Dagrou et al., 1992; Van Raalte et al., 1995) and competitive junior tennisplayers (Van Raalte et al., 1994). Conversely, Goodhart (1986) tested participants on an anagramtask and found that the performance of negative thinkers was better than for positive thinkers.One possible explanation for the contradictory finding is that Goodhart’s study used a cognitivetask, while the other research utilized physical tasks. Therefore, it appears that negative self-talk diminishes performance on physical tasks.One of the questions that remain unanswered, however, is whether one’s belief in the potencyof self-talk also impacts performance. Van Raalte et al. (1994) are one of the few researchers whohave addressed this relationship. Using a post-match questionnaire consisting of one item, theyfound that competitive junior tennis players who believed in their self-talk performed better thannonbelievers. Specifically, players that responded yes to the question whether they believed whatthey said to themselves during the match affected the outcome won significantly more points thandid those responding no. In a descriptive study of 291 athletes, Hardy, Hall, and Hardy (2004)also found that skilled athletes reported a greater belief that self-talk impacts their performancethan did less skilled athletes.Finally, while not directly examining the relationship between belief in self-talk andperformance, results of the post-experimental manipulation check used by Theodorakis et al.(2000) in a series of experiments provided additional support for investigating the relationshipbetween one’s belief in self-talk and performance. Experiment 2 results indicated that the group2  told to use instructional self-talk performed better than both the group instructed to usemotivational self-talk and the control group. A post-experimental manipulation check revealedthat the instructional group believed their self-talk statements were significantly more helpfulthan the motivational group. Thus, the group that performed better also believed their self-talk was more helpful.If self-talk affects performance, then it is pertinent to examine the relationship between thebelief in self-talk and performance. The first purpose of the present study, therefore, was toexamine the relationship between belief in self-talk and performance. Due to the scarcity of empirical evidence, it was hypothesized that there would be no relationship between belief inself-talk and performance. A second purpose was to examine the influence of positive andnegative self-talk on performance. Based on previous literature (Dagrou et al., 1992; Van Raalteet al., 1995), it was predicted that participants who generated only positive self-talk wouldperform significantly better on the task than those who used only negative self-talk. Method   Participants  A total of 125 undergraduate students (39 females, 86 males) volunteered to participate inthis study. Demographic data revealed that the sample consisted of freshman ( n = 9), sophomores( n = 33), juniors ( n = 33), and seniors ( n = 50). Their average age was 21.04 years ( SD = 1.67,range = 18 to 30). Participation in the study was one option of several that students could selectfor extra credit in a Psycho-Social Aspects of Sport class at a midwestern university. Theparticipants were informed that they could cease participation at any time without fear of reprisal.  Instruments    Belief in Self-Talk Questionnaire. The Belief in Self-Talk Questionnaire (BSQ) wasdeveloped for this study to assess participants’ belief in the effectiveness of self-talk. The BSQ isa self-report inventory with 8 items. Four of the items asked respondents to indicate the extent towhich they agreed or disagreed with statements regarding belief in positive self-talk to enhanceperformance and four items examined belief in negative self-talk to harm performance (seeAppendix A). Participants rated the items on a scale with anchors of  strongly disagree (0) to strongly agree (5). Based on the recommendation of Embree (1996), a single total belief scorewas calculated for each participant, with a possible range from 0 to 40.Before data collection, the BSQ was pilot tested. Twenty-four volunteers participated in thepilot study. Each volunteer completed the questionnaire twice with 5 days between the tests. Anintraclass correlation yielded a high stability coefficient of  r  = .85,  p < .001 for the test-retestscores. Type of self-talk. The type of self-talk that participants used before and during performancewas assessed using a 7 item post-experimental questionnaire developed for this study.Participants were asked to check the appropriate categories of self-talk used. Based on previousresearch (Girodo & Wood, 1979; Goodhart, 1986; Mahoney & Avener, 1977; Van Raalte et al.,3  1994; Weinberg, 1985), self-talk items categorized as calming/relaxing (“Take a deep breath”),instructional (“Bend your knees”), motivational (“Yes! Come on, let’s go!”), and focus (“Don’tthink about anything, just concentrate”) were operationally considered positive while self-talk categorized as performance worry (“This is too hard”), self doubts in ability (“I can’t do this”),and frustration (“This makes me mad”) were considered negative (see Appendix B). Responseswere tabulated to determine item frequencies and to classify participants. Individuals markingonly positive self-talk items were operationally classified as the positive self-talk group whereasindividuals selecting only negative self-talk items were considered part of the negative self-talk group. Finally, individuals marking at least one positive and one negative type of self-talk wereclassified as using mixed self-talk. Performance task and apparatus. The performance task utilized was a stabilometer (Model16020, Lafayette Instrument Inc., Lafayette, IN), where time in balance represented the criterionmeasure. The stabilometer platform (26 in. x 42.5 in. x 1 in.) was placed 6.5 inches from theframe and 8.5 inches from the floor. In order to make the task more difficult, the sensitivity of thestabilometer was set ±5 degree of a horizontal position (Murray, 1982; Ribadi, Rider, & Toole,1987; Suomi, Surburg, & Meetz, 1994; Vallerand & Reid, 1984). The stabilometer task is a validand reliable measure of balance (Murray, 1982; Ribadi, Rider, & Toole, 1987; Suomi, Surburg, &Meetz, 1994).Time in balance was the participant’s ability to maintain stability on the platform within 5degrees of the platform from the horizontal position. A clock-counter provided feedback toparticipants about the number of seconds the platform was in balance within ±5 degrees of thehorizontal position. A repeated cycle timer (Lafayette Instrument Model 51013, Lafayette, IN)was used to signal the tester when the 30 second time limit had ended. Procedure  After receiving approval from the Human Participants Review Committee, participants cameinto the laboratory where the tester informed them the present study was to collect college agenorms for a dynamic stability task. Participants read and signed the informed consent sheet andcompleted a brief demographic questionnaire. The participants were then instructed to stand onthe platform by keeping balance within 5 degrees for both sides. Each participant had a 30 secondpractice trial followed by a 30 second rest and a 30 second test.During the rest period, participants were told to be aware of their internal self-talk immediately before and during the test. At the end of the 30-second test, the time from the clock-counter was recorded in seconds on the participants’ information sheet. Following the test,participants completed the Belief in Self-Talk Questionnaire and the Type of Self-Talk Questionnaire. Upon completion, participants were debriefed and thanked for their participation. Results   The mean stabilometer time in balance was 8.88 secs. ( SD = 2.87) with a range from 3.56 to18.09. Belief in Self-Talk scores ranged from 16 to 40 with a mean of 32.46 ( SD = 5.13). Resultsfrom the test of internal consistency suggested that the 8 items displayed acceptable internal4
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