The purpose of this investigation was to determine the role of cognition and mood in the performance of squash tasks, with particular reference to attention and self-reported arousal and stress. Volunteer male subjects (n = 40), divided into three ability groups, 'skilled', 'average' and 'novice', were required to perform two squash tasks with different degrees of difficulty. Order of presentation of the tasks was controlled. Results indicated that subjects completing the easier squash task first performed better on the subsequent difficult task than those subjects who completed the more difficult task first. No differences in scores across tasks were found for subjects completing the tasks in reverse order. Performance was related to level of skill. Furthermore, significant differences in attentional style were revealed when average subjects were compared with skilled and novice players. Skilled players were also found to exhibit significantly different personality characteristics from novice players. Specifically, skilled players exhibited higher levels of extraversion and appeared less neurotic. For the average and novice groups, reports of high levels of stress accompanied those of high levels of arousal and these remained constant throughout the experiment. By contrast, for the skilled group low levels of stress accompanied high levels of arousal. The results are discussed in terms of the effects of these cognitive and mood factors on performance and a suggested direction for future research is offered. © 1990.
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