Somatic anxiety

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Somatic anxiety is the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as butterflies in the stomach.[1] It is commonly contrasted with cognitive anxiety, which is the mental manifestations of anxiety, or the specific thought processes that occur during anxiety, such as concern or worry. These different components of anxiety are especially studied in sports psychology,[2] specifically relating to how the anxiety symptoms affect athletic performance.

Anxiety-performance relationship theories[edit]

Drive theory[edit]

The Drive Theory (Zajonc 1965)[3] says that if an athlete is both skilled and driven (by somatic and cognitive anxiety) then the athlete will perform well.[1]

Inverted-U hypothesis[edit]

Inverted-U Hypothesis graph
A graph showing the Inverted-U hypothesis. In this context, arousal refers to somatic anxiety.

The Inverted-U Hypothesis (Yerkes and Dodson, 1908),[4] also known as the Yerkes-Dodson law (Yerkes 1908)[5] hypothesizes that as somatic and cognitive anxiety (the arousal) increase, performance will increase until a certain point. Once the arousal has increased past this point, performance will decrease.[1]

Multi-dimensional theory[edit]

The Multi-dimensional Theory of Anxiety (Martens, 1990)[6] is based on the distinction between somatic and cognitive anxiety. The theory predicts that there is a negative, linear relationship between somatic and cognitive anxiety, that there will be an Inverted-U relationship between somatic anxiety and performance, and that somatic anxiety should decline once performance begins although cognitive anxiety may remain high, if confidence is low.[7]

Catastrophe theory[edit]

The Catastrophe Theory (Hardy, 1987)[8] suggests that stress, combined with both somatic and cognitive anxiety, influences performance, that somatic anxiety will affect each athlete differently, and that performance will be effected uniquely, which will make it difficult to predict an outcome using general rules.[7]

Optimum arousal theory[edit]

The Optimum Arousal Theory (Hanin, 1997)[9] states that each athlete will perform at their best if their level of anxiety falls within an "optimum functioning zone".[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Competitive Anxiety". BrianMac. May 3, 2015. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ Rainer Martens; Robin S. Vealey; Damon Burton, Competitive anxiety in sport, pp. 6 et seq. 
  3. ^ Zajonc, R.B. (1965) Social Facilitation. Science, 149 (1965), p. 268-274
  4. ^ Yerkes, Robert M.; Dodson, John D. (1908-11-01). "The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit-formation". Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology. 18 (5): 459–482. doi:10.1002/cne.920180503. ISSN 1550-7149. 
  5. ^ Yerkes and Dodson (1908) The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit formation. Journal of Neurological Psychology, (1908)
  6. ^ Martens, R. et al.(1990) The Development of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2). Human Kinetics
  7. ^ a b McNally, Ivan M. (2002). "Contrasting Concepts of Competitive State-Anxiety in Sport:". Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  8. ^ Hardy, L. & Fazey, J. (1987). The Inverted-U Hypothesis: A Catastrophe For Sport Psychology? Paper Presented at the Annual Conference of the North American Society For the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. Vancouver. June 1987.
  9. ^ Hanin, Yuri L. (2003-01-31). "Performance Related Emotional States in Sport: A Qualitative Analysis". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research. 4 (1). ISSN 1438-5627. 

Additional references[edit]