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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  PSYCHOLOGY 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2017 March;57(3):305-12

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06554-3

Copyright © 2016 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Influence of acute stress on decision outcomes and heuristics

Teri J. HEPLER, Attila J. KOVACS

Exercise and Sport Science Department, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA


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BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to examine the take-the-first (TTF) heuristic and decision outcomes in sports under conditions of no, mental, and physical stress.
METHODS: Participants (N.=68) performed 8 video decision-making trials under each of 3 stress conditions: no stress (counting backwards), mental stress (mental serial subtraction), and physical stress (running on treadmill at 13 RPE). Prior to each decision-making trial, participants were exposed to 30 seconds of stress. The decision-making task required participants to watch a video depicting an offensive situation in basketball and then decide what the player with the ball should do next.
RESULTS: No differences were found between the 3 stress conditions on TTF frequency, number of options generated, quality of first generated option, or final decision quality. However, participants performing under conditions of no stress and physical stress generated their first option and made their final decision faster than they did when making decisions under mental stress.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, results suggest that mental stress impairs decision speed and that TTF is an ecologically rationale heuristic in dynamic, time-pressured situations.


KEY WORDS: Decision making - Cognition - Mental fatigue

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