Psychological Research

, Volume 82, Issue 4, pp 708–719 | Cite as

The effects of anxiety and situation-specific context on perceptual–motor skill: a multi-level investigation

  • Oliver R. Runswick
  • André Roca
  • A. Mark Williams
  • Neil E. Bezodis
  • Jamie S. North
Original Article


We examined the effects of anxiety and situation-specific contextual information on attentional, interpretational, and behavioural processes underpinning perceptual–motor performance as proposed by Nieuwenhuys and Oudejans (Psychological Research 76:747–759; Nieuwenhuys, Oudejans, Psychological Research 76:747–759, 2012) using an in situ task. Twelve skilled cricket batsmen played against a skilled spin bowler under conditions manipulated to induce low and high levels of anxiety and the presence of low and high levels of situation-specific context. High anxiety decreased the number of good bat–ball contacts, while high levels of situation-specific context increased the number of times the ball was missed. When under high anxiety, participants employed significantly more fixations of shorter duration to more locations, but the effects of anxiety were restricted to the attentional level only. Situation-specific context affected performance and behavioural measures but not anxiety, cognitive load or perceptual–cognitive processes, suggesting that performance is influenced through different mechanisms from anxiety that are independent of working memory load.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Oliver Runswick declares that he has no conflict of interest. André Roca declares that he has no conflict of interest. Mark Williams declares that he has no conflict of interest. Neil Bezodis declares that he has no conflict of interest. Jamie North declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the Ethical Standards of the Institutional Research Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Expert Performance and Skill Acquisition Research Group, School of Sport, Health and Applied ScienceSt Mary’s UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Health, Kinesiology and Recreation, College of HealthThe University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Applied Sports, Technology, Exercise and Medicine Research CentreSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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