Examining the effect of state anxiety on compensatory and strategic adjustments in the planning of goal-directed aiming Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The anxiety-perceptual-motor performance relationship may be enriched by investigations involving discrete manual responses due to the definitive demarcation of planning and control processes, which comprise the early and late portions of movement, respectively. To further examine the explanatory power of self-focus and distraction theories, we explored the potential of anxiety causing changes to movement planning that accommodate for anticipated negative effects in online control. As a result, we posed two hypotheses where anxiety causes performers to initially undershoot the target and enable more time to use visual feedback ("play-it-safe"), or fire a ballistic reach to cover a greater distance without later undertaking online control ("go-for-it"). Participants were tasked with an upper-limb movement to a single target under counter-balanced instructions to execute fast and accurate responses (low/normal anxiety) with non-contingent negative performance feedback (high anxiety). The results indicated that the previously identified negative impact of anxiety in online control was replicated. While anxiety caused a longer displacement to reach peak velocity and greater tendency to overshoot the target, there appeared to be no shift in the attempts to utilise online visual feedback. Thus, the tendency to initially overshoot may manifest from an inefficient auxiliary procedure that manages to uphold overall movement time and response accuracy.


  • Roberts, James W
  • Wilson, Mark R
  • Skultety, Jessica K
  • Lyons, Jim

publication date

  • April 2018