Schuele, J. G., & Wisenfeld, A. R. (1983). Autonomic response to self-critical thought. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 7, 189-194.

s (N = 32) with high levels of interpersonal anxiety covertly rehearsed negative evaluation and neutral self-referent statements and associated imagery. Cardiac level and respiratory results indicated that negative self-statements were more arousing than neutral ones. The excessive effect was especially pronounced when the self-cognitions were relevant to an anticipated interpersonal encounter and less so when no such encounter was anticipated.

The severity of effect of negative thinking increased as the proximity of the event increased.

Implication. Negative anticipations and expectations for competitions, as revealed through self-statements and reported imagery, are associated with greater, and therefore, less efficient physiological functioning, than when no negative perceptions are experienced. This excessive response increases as the impending event approaches.

Every attempt should be taken to teach athletes to be positive in attitude, self-talk, and imagery prior to an important competition. If that can be achieved, precompetition metabolism will be reduced. Negative thoughts and imagery are debilitating and costly in terms of the energy needed to support them because of excessive physiological reactions underlying their occurrence.

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