RETENTION OF A DIFFICULT NEW TASKS BENEFITS FROM EXTERNAL ATTENTIONAL FOCUS IN MALES
Smith, P. J., & Becker, K. (2012). An investigation of age, task complexity, and gender as potential moderators of attentional focus effects. Presentation 1356 at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, California; May 29-June 2, 2012.
This study examined the effectiveness of internal and external attentional foci for learning two novel locomotor skills varying in complexity. Children (N = 48; ages 8-10) and adults (N = 48; ages 19-26) learned to ride a Double Pedalo either with or without stability handles while adopting either an internal or external focus of attention. Ss were instructed to either push their feet (internal focus) or the boards of the Pedalo (external focus) forward to make the Pedalo move. The dependent measure used was time to travel seven meters.
For the simpler task (with handles), no attentional focus effects were elicited during either acquisition or retention. With the complex task (without handles), there were no significant attentional focus effects in acquisition, but in retention, an external focus of attention resulted in faster times than an internal focus, but only in males.
Implication. A certain degree of instability or error is necessary to elicit benefits from an external focus. The response to attentional instructions is determined by one's gender.
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