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To me, to you: How you say things matters for endurance performance

Authors:

Abstract

Self-talk enhances physical performance. Nothing is known however about the way that a subtle grammatical difference in self-talk, using first or second person pronouns, may effect performance. As second person self-talk supports self-regulation in non-exercise populations, we hypothesized that 10 km cycling time-trial performance would be superior following second versus first person self-talk. Using a randomized, counterbalanced, crossover design, sixteen physically active males (Mage = 21.99, SD = 3.04 years) completed a familiarization visit followed by a 10 km time-trial during two separate experimental visits using first and second person self-talk. A paired t-test revealed that second person self-talk generated significantly faster time-trial performance than first person self-talk (p = .014). This was reflected in a significantly greater power output throughout the time-trial when using second person self-talk (p = .03), despite RPE remaining similar between conditions (p = .75). This is the first evidence that strategically using grammatical pronouns when implementing self-talk can influence physical performance providing practitioners with a new aspect to consider when developing interventions. We discussed findings in the context of a self-distancing phenomenon induced by the use second person pronouns.
Running head: Grammar and self-talk
To me, to you: How you say things matters for endurance performance
Accepted in Journal of Sports Sciences on the 26th February 2019
Author names and affiliations:
James Hardy, Aled V. Thomas, & Anthony W. Blanchfield
Institute for the Psychology of Elite Performance, School of Sport, Health and
Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Normal Site, Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales
LL57 2PZ
Corresponding Author:
James Hardy,
School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences,
Bangor University,
George Building,
Normal Site,
Bangor,
LL572PZ
E-mail: j.t.hardy@bangor.ac.uk
Work Telephone: (01248) 38 3493
Manuscript word count: 4906 (including citations and section headers)
Keywords: self-talk, time-trial, power output, RPE, psychological strategy,
grammatical pronouns
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Abstract
Self-talk enhances physical performance. Nothing is known however about the
way that a subtle grammatical difference in self-talk, using first or second person
pronouns, may effect performance. As second person self-talk supports self-
regulation in non-exercise populations, we hypothesized that 10 km cycling time-
trial performance would be superior following second versus first person self-
talk. Using a randomized, counterbalanced, crossover design, sixteen physically
active males (Mage = 21.99, SD = 3.04 years) completed a familiarization visit
followed by a 10 km time-trial during two separate experimental visits using first
and second person self-talk. A paired t-test revealed that second person self-talk
generated significantly faster time-trial performance than first person self-talk (p
= .014). This was reflected in a significantly greater power output throughout the
time-trial when using second person self-talk (p = .03), despite RPE remaining
similar between conditions (p = .75). This is the first evidence that strategically
using grammatical pronouns when implementing self-talk can influence physical
performance providing practitioners with a new aspect to consider when
developing interventions. We discussed findings in the context of a self-
distancing phenomenon induced by the use second person pronouns.
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Relatively recent systematic reviews of this research literature attest to
the positive effects of self-talk on performance, reporting consistent performance
benefits of moderate effect size (Hatzigeorgiadis, Zourbanos, Galanis, &
Theodorakis, 2011; Tod, Hardy, & Oliver, 2011). Furthermore, there is empirical
support that such positive effects hold across different types of tasks; fine motor
skills such as golf putting (d = .67), and gross motor skills such as maximal leg
extension tasks (d = .26; Hatzigeorgiadis et al.). Within the existent research
literature it is also apparent that different types of phrases said to oneself
moderate any such performance benefits from self-talk (e.g., Theodorakis,
Weinberg, Natsis, Duma, & Kazakas, 2000). Hardy, Tod, and Oliver (2009)
coined this differential expectation the task demand matching hypothesis where
instructional self-talk is theorized to be more beneficial than motivational self-
talk for skills involving accuracy, form, and precision; although motivational
self-talk is predicted to be superior to instructional self-talk for gross motor tasks
involving strength and endurance (Theodorakis et al., 2000). Furthermore,
available meta-analytic data offers some empirical support for this hypothesis
(e.g., instructional self-talk – fine task, d = .83 and instructional self-talk – gross
task, d = .22; Hatzigeorgiadis et al.). However, within the self-talk literature,
there remains a propensity for researchers to utilize discrete motor skills in their
study designs. Consequently, the inclusion of endurance based experimental
tasks that possess reasonable ecological validity (e.g., a time trial cycle as
opposed to a seated leg extension task) would help to provide practitioners with
firmer evidence based direction.
Despite recently introduced perspectives on self-talk (e.g., Van Raalte,
Vincent, & Brewer, 2016) little specific guidance is given with regard to how
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self-talk ought to influence endurance performance. Of note, a number of
relatively recent investigations of self-talk and endurance have drawn from the
psychobiological model of endurance performance (Marcora, 2008) to explain
the reported positive effects. This perspective presents reasoning for the role of
motivational self-talk in human endurance, placing an emphasis on individuals’
perceived effort (RPE). Based on motivational intensity theory (Brehm & Self,
1989), the psychobiological model posits that endurance exercise performance is
driven by effort based conscious decision making. Hence, during a constant
intensity physical task, an individual chooses to stop exercise when they perceive
a very high level of effort (Marcora, 2008), whereas during self-paced time-trial
(TT) exercise an individual consciously regulates their pacing to compensate for
the positive/negative effect of an intervention on perception of effort (De Morree
& Marcora, 2013; Pageaux, 2016). The relevance of Marcora’s theorizing is that
any psychological (or physiological) factor affecting an individual’s perception
of effort will in turn, influence endurance performance. In the case of self-paced
TT exercise, for interventions that have a positive effect on performance, this
frequently translates as an increase in power output without a change in RPE
(Barwood, Corbett, Wagstaff, McVeigh & Thelwell, 2015; Chambers, Bridge &
Jones, 2009). This is because an increase in power output without an
accompanying increase in perceived effort indirectly suggests that effort
perception has been positively modified in some way.
With regard to the use of motivational self-talk said during the execution
of aerobic tasks, it is likely to enable the performer to achieve a more positive
(i.e., confident and motivated) activation state (e.g., Hatzigeorgiadis, Zourbanos,
Goltsios, & Theodorakis, 2008) that in turn, influences his/her perceptions of
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effort (Gendolla, 2012). Blanchfield, Hardy, de Morree, Staiano and Marcora
(2014) were the first to utilize the psychobiological model of endurance
performance to understand the effects of motivational self-talk. Using a time-to-
exhaustion paradigm, these researchers showed that motivational self-talk
yielded reduced effort perception and enhanced aerobic performance (i.e., 18%
improvement) compared to a control group. When a TT paradigm has been
employed by researchers similarly supportive but not identical findings have
been reported. For example, Barwood et al. (2015) subsequently suggested a
perceptual benefit of motivational self-talk during self-paced TT exercise have
indeed found that motivational self-talk resulted in superior 10 km TT cycling
performance and elevated power output, despite similar RPE compared to neutral
self-talk. The above findings demonstrate that the content of athletes’ self-talk is
an important aspect for practitioners designing self-talk interventions to consider.
Nevertheless, other aspects of self-talk have received far less investigation from
sports researchers, yet mainstream psychology research (e.g., Kross et al., 2014)
provides merit for their examination; one of these is how self-talk is said.
Grammatical aspects of speech have only recently been examined in the
context of self-talk and the motor domain. For instance, Van Raalte et al. (2017)
investigated the impact of interrogative and declarative self-talk; that is, self-talk
phrased as questions or statements, respectively. Contrary to findings reported in
the mainstream literature (e.g., Senay, Albarraci, & Noquchi, 2010) and across
six experiments, no differences between interrogative and declarative self-talk
emerged for motivation, RPE, and performance. One explanation for these null
findings is how the self-talk intervention was conducted. In order to replicate
previous research, Van Raalte et al. employed a pre-task intervention. However,
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this is largely at odds with traditional sports-oriented motivational self-talk
interventions that place an emphasis on the use of self-talk during task execution.
Whether self-talk is said using the first-person (“I can do this”) or the
second-person (“You can do this”) pronoun perspective is another aspect of
grammar that has yet to be investigated within the sports domain. However,
existing research supports the case that using the second-person perspective is
beneficial when the task at hand requires self-regulation (e.g., Dolcos &
Albarracin, 2014; Kross et al., 2014). One reason for this is related to Dolcos and
Albarracin’s supposition that humans become accustomed to directions and
guidance given using non-first person pronouns from significant others (e.g.,
parents, coaches); a process that enables us to integrate societal values and ideals
into our self-system. In-direct support for this habituation explanation comes
from the finding that individuals use more second-person pronouns when making
autonomous decisions involving self-regulation, such as when exercising (e.g.,
Gammage, Hardy, & Hall, 2001; Zell, Warriner & Albarracin, 2012). Kross and
colleagues forward another explanation that overlaps with the St. Clair Gibson
and Foster (2007) “time wedge” concept regarding the role of self-talk during
exercise. That is, self-talk is said to act to separate the self from what he/she is
experiencing. Kross et al. argue that the use of second-person pronouns reflects
the adoption of a broader self-distanced perspective similar to a “fly-on-the-wall”
perspective. Aligned with this theorizing, a number of studies have
operationalized the degree of first-person pronouns present within writings of
emotional experiences as a marker of self-distancing (e.g., Cohn, Mehl, &
Pennebaker, 2004). Attesting to the potential efficacy of second person pronouns,
the concept of self-distancing is also a prominent feature of several
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psychotherapies and has been referred to as encouraging the “self as context”.
Furthermore, Beck (1970) referred to distancing as a process enabling clients to
think more objectively about their irrational thoughts. Kross et al. (p. 305)
surmised that “the language people use to refer to the self … may influence self-
distancing, and thus have consequential implications for their ability to regulate
their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under stress”. Indeed, Kross et al. provide
some support for their theorizing that second-person pronouns can encourage
individuals to adopt a more distanced perspective regarding what is going on
around them and as a result cope better than when using the first-person
pronouns.
To date, whilst athletes report using both first and second-person
pronouns as part of their self-talk (Hardy, Gammage, & Hall, 2001) and
mainstream psychology evidences the benefit of the second-person perspective
for tasks such as anagrams (Dolcos & Albarracin, 2014) and social speeches
(Kross et al., 2014), experimental comparison of these grammatical features
within the motor domain has not occurred. Consequently, practitioners devising
self-talk interventions would likely benefit from the efforts of applied researchers
attempting to provide guidance on this issue. Drawing on the psychobiological
model of endurance performance and self-talk research using a TT paradigm
(e.g., Barwood et al., 2015), in the present study we examined whether how one
uses self-talk influences performance, work rate, and RPE on a 10 km cycle TT
endurance task. Given that existing literature already offers support that
performers can enhance their endurance via the use of self-talk compared to
control conditions (e.g., Blanchfield et al., 2014), the current investigation
focused on the relative effectiveness of first and second person pronouns. More
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specifically, we hypothesized that superior TT performance would result from
use of second person pronoun self-talk as opposed to first person self-talk. The
rationale for this prediction stemmed from the self-distancing potential of
second-person pronouns, and that participants would be more receptive to their
self-provided (second-person) advice and encouragement and so work at a higher
intensity, yet would not report differences for RPE (cf. Barwood et al., 2015).
Method
Participants
Sixteen recreationally active and healthy males volunteered to take part in
the study (Mage = 21.99, SD = 3.04 years old; Mheight = 181.87cm, SD = 6.99;
Mweight = 83.34kg, SD = 18.68). Participants self-reported engaging in physical
activity on a regular basis (Mweekly exercise frequency = 3.63, SD = 1.54; Mweekly exercise duration
= 297.50mins, SD = 262.87), competing at university and club levels in various
sports such as rugby, boxing, soccer, Gaelic football, and rock climbing. All were
familiar with high intensity noncycling exercise. Sensitivity calculations
indicated that our sample size was adequate to detect effects comparable with
those reported in the self-talk literature utilising similar tasks (e.g., Blanchfield et
al., 2014); powered at .80 and using a 5% level of significance, we could detect
medium to large sized effects, η2 = .37). Ethical approval was granted in
accordance with the formal ethical procedures of the School of Sport, Health and
Exercise Sciences, Bangor University and conformed to the declaration of
Helsinki. All participants were fully informed of the procedures and risks
associated with the research prior to providing written consent to participate in
the investigation.
Design
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We employed a repeated measures design whereby participants were
randomly counterbalanced after a familiarization visit into either a first-person or
second-person self-talk condition performed in their second visit, with the
opposite form of self-talk employed in their final visit. Dependent variables were
cycling TT performance, average power output, and RPE. Participants completed
a 10 km cycle TT (Wattbike Pro) on each visit.
Measures
RPE: To measure RPE we used the 11-point CR10 scale developed by
Borg (1998). Low (0.5 = very, very light) and high (10 = maximal) anchors were
established using standard procedures (Borg, 1998). It was also emphasized that
each rating should be based on the effort required to perform the TT as opposed
to any leg muscle pain occurring during the cycling exercise (Blanchfield et al.,
2014).
Average power output: Average power output (watts) per km was
captured by the Wattbike Expert Software linking information concerning work
performed during the TT on the Wattbike Pro to a laptop.
Performance: We operationalized performance as the completion time
(seconds) for the 10 km cycle TT.
Mood: We measured participants’ mood via by the UWIST mood
adjective checklist (UMACL; Matthews, Jones, & Chamberlain, 1990). The
UMACL contains eight items describing current feelings and subdivides into a
positive and negative mood subscale. Responses are provided on a 7-point Likert
type scale (1 = not at all, 4 = moderately, and 7 = very much).
Motivation: We also assessed motivation through the 14 item success and
intrinsic motivation scale (Matthews, Campbell, & Falconer, 2001) comprising
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two subscales. The success and intrinsic motivation subscales are scored on a 5-
point Likert type scale (0 = not at all to 4 = extremely).
Procedures
For each visit, participants wore light and comfortable clothing and
refrained from eating within an hour of the TT, consuming alcohol within
twenty-four hours of the TT, performing exhaustive exercise within 48 hours of
the TT, and consuming caffeine or nicotine within three hours of the TT. These
baseline conditions were confirmed by the researcher at the beginning of each
visit to the laboratory. Participants first attended a familiarization visit consisting
of three phases; warm up, TT, and development of self-talk cues. Upon
completion of the relevant forms, height, weight, and bike set-up measurements
were noted, and all participants carried out a standardized warm up, consisting of
a five-minute cycle maintaining approximately 90 watts and 70 revolutions per
minute (resistance on the Wattbike was set at “2” and the magnetic resistance at
“1” for all participants and visits). After completing the warm up, and prior to the
TT, all participants were taught how to use the Borg CR10 scale. To achieve this,
memory anchoring procedures were used whereby participants were instructed
that a rating of 0.5 on the Borg CR10 scale would equate to instances where very
minimal effort was perceived during a physical task, whereas a rating of 10
would correspond to the highest effort ever encountered during a physical task
(Noble & Robertson, 1996; Pageaux, 2016). Participants where then instructed
that after every km, they would be asked ”How hard, heavy and strenuous does
the exercise feel?” (Blanchfield et al., 2014), and asked to respond by rating their
effort perception on the Borg CR10 scale. Importantly, following an explanation
of self-talk given prior to the TT, participants were prompted at each km to say
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aloud statements they had said to themselves during that km of their
familiarization TT, this was recorded verbatim by the experimenter and gave
participants an opportunity to actively contribute to their own interventions. After
completing the TT, participants carried out a 3 minute cool-down. Participants’
naturally occurring self-talk was generally devoid of instructions, tended to be
more motivational in nature but was not overtly negative in content.
Similar to previously published self-talk interventions (e.g., Barwood,
Thelwell, & Tipton, 2008), our participants completed a structured workbook in
preparation for the following two experimental TTs involving first and second
person self-talk. Via the workbook we attempted to raise participants’ awareness
of their use of self-talk (cf. Hardy, Roberts, & Hardy, 2009) and provided a
mechanism to change any negative self-talk captured during the familiarization
TT into motivational and positive first person and second person self-talk
statements. Consequently, our participants could deploy more functional
statements during their TTs as well as counter any negative self-talk said during
these trials. We also ensured that the new statements were brief and phonetically
simple (Landin, 1994), and viewed by our participants as motivational (Hardy,
Hall, & Alexander, 2001b). For example, if a participant said ”This is hurting”
during the familiarization TT, the statement might be transformed into ”I can
tolerate this” and ”You can tolerate this”. Identical to Barwood et al.’s (2015)
effective self-talk intervention for the same TT task, statements were created for
use at the following distances; 0-2 km, 2-4 km, 4-6 km, 6-8 km, and 8-10 km.
See the Appendix for an illustrative example of this process. Overall, participants
provided themselves with encouragement across the five stages of the TT.
However, there was a tendency for participants’ self-statements to change from
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countering their legs hurting (e.g., 4-6km: “I/You can deal with the pain”; “I/You
can keep going”) in the mid-stages, to highlighting the need to work harder (e.g.,
8-10km: “I am/You are going to finish strong”; “I/You can go flat out now”) at
the latter-stages. Approximately 24 hours before each experimental trial, we
emailed participants to confirm their arrival and reminded them about the self-
talk cues they were to use during the upcoming visit. Additionally, as part of
welcoming participants to the laboratory, the experimenter verbally reminded
participants about the self-statements the participants had created and were to use
during the trial. Because of the above features, we guided our participants to
design highly personalized cues, tailored to the task at hand, which according to
Theodorakis et al. (2000) should help to optimize our manipulation. The
workbook and subsequently developed self-talk from the familiarization visit
were retained by the experimenter for later use.
Prior to each TT, including the familiarization TT, participants completed
the relevant consent forms, the UMACL, and the success and intrinsic motivation
scale. When the participants returned for their next two experimental TTs
involving ”I” or ”You” forms of self-talk, they performed the same standardized
warm-up as carried out in the familiarization visit. The appropriate list of
developed statements were discussed before and made visible during the TTs on
a computer screen placed (approx. 1m) in front of the participants; participants
were reminded to utilize their personalized statements at the appropriate
distances (Barwood et al., 2015), along with need to rate their perceived effort
every km. During the TT’s all participants silently recited the statements to
themselves, as it is possible that self-talk said out-loud can be awkward and
distracting (Masciana, Van Raalte, Brewer, Branton, & Coughlin, 2001). Gaining
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active input from our participants in the development of their intervention was
deliberate as this ought to create self-talk statements with personal meaning
(Hardy, 2006), and foster enhanced perceptions of control over the performance
environment (cf. Deci & Ryan, 1985), increasing the effectiveness of the
intervention (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2011).
Participants were administered a manipulation check after their cool-
down. Example manipulation check items were; “To what extent did you adhere
to the instructions that were given to you before and during the cycling task?”,
“To what extent did your self-talk reflect a first person (i.e., ‘I’ types of
statements) / second-person (i.e., ‘You’ types of statement or included your own
name) perspective?” and “How motivating did you find the self-talk you used
during the time trial?” (cf. Hardy et al., 2001b). There was a period of three to
seven days between each visit to allow sufficient recovery. Participants
performed the experimental TTs at the same time of day as the familiarization
TT.
Data Analysis
Data analysis for performance and the manipulation check data were
conducted via paired t-tests with the exception of our analysis of possible
ordering effects. As far as RPE and average power output per km were
concerned, 2 (condition) x 10 (distance) fully repeated measures ANOVAs were
calculated. Effect sizes F-ratio scores are reported via ηp² with values of .10, .25,
and .40 reflective of small, medium, and large effects sizes (Cohen, 1988). For t-
tests standardized Cohen’s d values were calculated using Equation 11.9 from
Cumming (2012) with thresholds for small, moderate or large effects set at 0.2,
0.5, and 0.8 respectively (Cohen, 1988). Where relevant, 95% confidence
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intervals are reported throughout to show the plausible upper and lower bound
differences between conditions. In the vast majority of cases, data met the
assumptions underpinning the respective statistical analyses. When this was not
the case, a Greenhouse-Geisser correction was applied to reduce the chances of
committing Type I errors. However, it is worth being mindful that both types of
analyses are robust to moderate violations of their assumptions (e.g., Tabachnick
& Fidel, 2014).
Results
Manipulation checks
Descriptive statistics for all study variables are reported in Table 1. Paired
t-tests regarding pre-task mood and motivation states confirmed no differences
across conditions: positive mood, t(15) = -.35, p = .73, d = .09; negative mood,
t(15) = .13, p = .90, d = .04; success motivation, t(15) = -.41, p = .69, d = .07;
intrinsic motivation, t(15) = -.67, p = .51, d = .22. In addition, participants’ use of
self-talk was as expected, offering support for the integrity of the study’s internal
validity. That is, participants reported adhering to their respective instructions
before and during the TT in both conditions, t(15) = -.95, p = .36, d = .03, and
found their first and second-person self-talk cues equally motivating, t(15) = .45,
p = .66, d = .14, and useful, t(15) = .73, p = .48, d = .21. Moreover, when in the
first person condition participants used significantly more first person self-talk
than second-person self-talk, t(15) = 14.50, p < .001, d = 4.78, and vice versa for
the second-person condition, t(15) = -13.08, p < .001, d = 4.71. Furthermore,
results from a 2 x 2 (self-talk condition x ordering of conditions) mixed model
ANOVA revealed null effects and evidence for the lack of an ordering effect on
TT performance, F(1, 14) = 1.88, p = .19, ηp² = .12.
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****Table 1 near here****
Performance
Results from the paired t-test presented support for our main hypothesis.
That is, when participants completed the TT in the second-person self-talk
condition they performed significantly faster (M = 1045; SD = 95 seconds) than
when in the first-person self-talk condition (M = 1068; SD = 104 seconds), with a
difference between conditions of 2.2%; t(15) = 2.77, p = .014, d = .24, 95% CI
[5.37s, 41.38s]. Importantly, on an individual level, 13 of the 16 participants
performed the TT faster in the second person self-talk condition (see Figure 1).
****Figure 1 near here****
Average power output
As average power output was captured for each kilometer of the 10km
TT, a 2 (self-talk condition) x 10 (distance) fully repeated ANOVA was
conducted and revealed a main effect for both self-talk condition, F(1, 15) =
6.08, p =.03, ηp² = .29, and distance, F(1.88, 28.20) = 12.66, p < . 001, ηp² = .46,
but a nonsignificant interaction, F(2.73, 40.89) = 1.16, p = .34, ηp² = .07.
Participants produced an elevated work rate in the second-person as compared to
the first-person condition (see upper Figure 2).
RPE
The 2 (self-talk condition) x 10 (distance) repeated measures ANOVA for
RPE indicated a main effect for distance, F(1.62, 24.31) = 84.65, p < .001, ηp² = .
85, but neither the effect of self-talk, F(1, 15) = .11, p = .75, ηp² = .01, nor the
interaction, F(2.37, 35.60) = .96, p = .40, ηp² = .06, were significant (see lower
Figure 2).
****Figure 2 near here****
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Discussion
The present study is the first to examine the potential benefit of how a
relatively subtle change in how athletes speak to themselves using a first-person
or second-person perspective impacts on endurance performance. When using
second-person self-talk, participants completed the 10km cycling TT
significantly quicker, worked harder, yet did not perceive there to be a difference
in effort compared to when completing the task in the first-person self-talk
condition. Collectively, the findings support our a priori hypotheses and for the
first time, illustrate the benefit of considering grammatical features when
constructing self-talk interventions aimed at targeting motor performance.
Our significant effect for TT performance offers encouragement for the
potency of this subtle change in the self-talk used by our participants and our
theorizing concerning second person pronouns. When using this more familiar
perspective during an event requiring self-regulation (i.e., second-person
pronouns; Dolcos & Albarracin, 2014), our participants’ motivational self-talk
seemed to enable them to work at a higher exercise intensity and affording them
the opportunity to complete the 10km TT faster. Importantly, participants did not
perceive that they had to work harder to achieve these performance related
benefits. This implies that second person self-talk is a more efficient perceptual
strategy (i.e., greater absolute workload for no “cost” in RPE) for endurance
athletes during exercise. This conforms to the tenets of the psychobiological
model of endurance performance (Marcora, 2008) emphasizing the role of
perceptions of effort for endurance.
Kross and colleagues (2014) highlight self-distancing as a path through
which second-person pronouns influence our ability to regulate feelings,
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thoughts, and behavior under stress. Furthermore being able to distance oneself
from a more self-immersed perspective can impact on how individuals process
events and experiences once they have occurred (Kross et al.). For instance,
within the domain of sport this might mean interpreting an error or poor
competition performance more positively. However, to date, the concept of self-
distancing has not been systematically investigated within physical activity
research.
Sharing some similarity with Kross et al.’s (2014) self-distancing
mechanism is St. Clair Gibson and Foster’s (2007) “time wedge” concept
proposed to underpin the role of self-talk during exercise. This “time wedge”
enables the exerciser to insert time distance between the self and ongoing mental
and physical activities being experienced, facilitating self-observation and
awareness. A second concept related to self-distancing that may occur due to the
use of second-person pronouns is linked to Brick, MacIntyre, and Campbell’s
(2014) supposition that self-talk utilized during endurance tasks can be viewed as
a form of attentional focus termed active self-regulation. Active self-regulation is
supposed to reflect focus on technique, cadence, pacing, and/or relaxation.
According to Brick et al. a key assertion of active self-regulation is increased
pace without necessarily increased perceptions of effort. Furthermore, an active
self-regulation focus has been theorized to link metacognitive feelings to
metacognitive judgements and estimates (e.g., judgements regarding own
capabilities, estimates of effort) aiding elite runners’ cognitive control during
exercise (Brick, MacIntyre, & Campbell, 2015). An alternative explanation for
the current findings involves the influence of pronouns to shape challenge/threat
appraisals (Kross et al., 2014). More specifically, Kross et al. report on the use of
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pre-task second-person introspection leading to more challenge and less threat
appraisals for an upcoming stressful (public speaking) event. It is possible that
the use of second-person self-talk might promote more facilitative concurrent
appraisals of our demanding TT task; in turn, shaping perceptions of effort (cf.
Gendolla, 2012). Of course, it is only with empirical evidence that fuller
understanding is this mechanistic theorizing will emerge.
We hope that the present study represents the first of many self-talk
investigations examining grammatical features of self-talk to reveal instructive
guidance for practitioners. Nevertheless, replication of the current findings is
desirable as is extension to different types of participants. Given that trained
cyclists have more consistent pacing as they are capable of reproducing
performances (De Koning, Bobbert, & Foster, 1999; Barwood et al., 2015) and
have probably developed their own self-talk strategies (Hardy, 2006; Barwood et
al., 2015), it is not a forgone conclusion that the current findings necessarily
apply to this more specialized sample (cf. Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2011; Tod et al.,
2011). Furthermore, despite our medium to large effect, our difference is less
than the meaningful change of 3.6% that has been reported recently for a 10 km
TT in a sample population similar to ours, albeit using a different cycle
ergometer (Borg et al., 2018). Continued investigation will provide clarity on the
matter. However, self-talk researchers should also explore other aspects of
grammar. Establishing any (performance) differences between perfect and
imperfect verb usage (e.g., Hart & Albarracin, 2009), and between interrogative
and declarative self-talk when answers are provided to questions (e.g.,
Puchalska-Wasyl, 2014) are alternative candidate aspects of grammar. Also,
differences reported by Son, Jackson, Grove, and Feltz (2011) regarding the use
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of collectivistic (“we”) and individualistic (“I”) self-talk could form a nuanced
primer for teambuilding interventions.
Of greater relevance to the larger topic of self-talk, and central to the idea
of the self, are individual differences. In fact, the current data revealed some
response differences across our participants; while 13 of the 16 participants
displayed superior performance under the second person pronoun condition,
three did not. (Although we reported the individual responses to our intervention,
a novel approach in the self-talk research literature, such personalized detail is
consistent with the practice of sports psychology.) Yet to date investigation of the
interaction of self-talk interventions with aspects of personality is largely absent
(see Thomas & Fogarty, 1997 for an exception). Of particular pertinence to
pronouns is the disposition of narcissism as some data suggest individuals with
narcissistic tendencies use more first-person pronouns than those with less
narcissistic tendencies (Raskin & Shaw, 1988). This propensity to use the first-
person pronouns might make narcissists less likely to exhibit performance
differences across perspectives or as the first person perspective is more central
to them, will make first person pronoun self-talk more effective. However, the
lack of a control condition in the present study and the challenges of
incorporating them in future experiments involving pronouns, might hamper our
ability to fully understanding the exact nature of the interaction between self-talk
and personality.
As a result of our novel findings we are cautiously optimistic that they
represent an untapped branch of self-talk worthy of further consideration by
researchers and practitioners alike. Indeed a latent aim of the investigation was to
raise practitioners’ awareness of the potential role of grammar for their practice,
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highlighting a pocket of research unlikely to have been previously reflected
upon. Inevitably, answers to the above forward-looking research questions would
solidify the reader’s confidence in the applicability of grammar to self-talk.
Funding Sources
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the
public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors
Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.
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Table 1. Manipulation check items and descriptive statistics
First person
self-talk
Second person
self-talk
95% CI
difference
Post-task
Extent adhered to
instructions before
and during task a
M SD M SD
8.44 1.09 8.81 1.38 [-1.22, .47]
Extent that self-talk
reflected first person
perspective a
8.31 1.95 1.38 0.62 [5.91, 7.96]
Extent that self-talk
reflected second
person perspective a
2.06 1.88 9.25 1.06 [-8.36,-6.02]
How motivating was
the self-talk that you
used during the task?
b
7.13 1.31 6.94 1.39 [-.71, 1.08]
How useful were the
self-talk statements a
7.69 1.58 7.31 1.96 [-.72, 1.47]
Pre-task
Intrinsic motivation c2.94 0.56 3.03 0.47 [-.07, .32]
Success Motivation c2.41 0.64 2.46 0.80 [-.30, .20]
UWIST Positive
Mood d Subscale 4.64 0.74 4.72 1.00 [-.55, .40]
UWIST Negative
Mood d Subscale 1.64 0.77 1.61 0.78 [-.49, .55]
Note: Values are the mean of reported scores on response scales of: a(1-10); b(1-
9); c(1-5); d(1-7).
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Figure Captions
Figure 1. Mean and standard deviation 10 km cycling time-trial performance
following use of first and second person self-talk during exercise. Triangles on
floating secondary y-axis denote individual differences between conditions.
#Denotes significantly different 10km time-trial performance.
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Figure 2. Mean and standard deviation power output for first and second person
self-talk at 1 km intervals throughout 10 km time-trial (upper figure) and RPE for
first and second person self-talk at 1 km intervals throughout 10 km time-trial
(lower figure). # Denotes significant difference between conditions.
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Appendix
Illustrative examples of two participants’ self-talk captured and then altered for
each stage of the 10km TT.
Km Self-talk said in
familiarisation TT
Changed to “I”
pronouns
Changed to “You”
pronouns
Participant
A
0-2km C’mon
Keep pushing
I can do this You can do this
2-4km C’mon
Keep pushing
Keep it smooth
I can do this You can do this
4-6km Keep grinding
Keep pushing
Almost there
I’m halfway
through, almost
there
You’re halfway
through, almost there
6-8km Keep grinding
Keep pushing
Almost there
Hang in there
Keep your leg speed
I’m hanging in
well
You’re hanging in
well
8-10km Keep digging in
Forget about the
pain
Almost there
Keep picking up the
leg speed
I can keep going You can keep going
Participant
B
0-2km I can do it I can do it You can do it
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654
655
It’s going well
2-4km I am determined
Feeling motivated
I’m determined You’re determined
4-6km I’m halfway there
I need to keep going
I can keep going You can keep going
6-8km No pain, no gain
C’mon, I’m nearly
there
I can work through
the pain
You can work
through the pain
8-10km Last push now
I’ve done it
I will succeed You will succeed
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... Problem-focused coping strategy can be considered as a style in which a person tries to overcome obstacles and achieve his or her desired goals and has a significant relationship with mental health status, while in the emotion-focused coping the main aim is to reduce or change the emotional turmoil related to stressful status having a negative relationship with mental health status (34). This result aligns with the previous studies that found applying self-talk skills as a cognitive psychological technique led to stopping negative thinking and using effective coping strategies to deal with stressful situations (12,14,35,36). In addition to the impact of the COVID-19 on citizens' emotions, an individual's coping strategies will also change, so that it leads to inefficient coping strategies and ultimately inappropriate insights and actions in confronting these conditions. ...
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Objective: Nowadays, the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is one of the most stressful resources that has led to the rise of different levels of psychological crisis. In addition to the countries affected by the COVID-19, such as China, European and American countries, Iran has appeared as one of the most affected countries with high infected cases and deaths. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the role of self-talk in predicting death anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and coping strategies in the face of COVID-19. Method: This descriptive and correlational study was conducted on 354 adults living in Ardabil, Iran, who were selected using cluster sampling from 21 January to 19 March 2020. Self-Talk questionnaires, Coping Strategies, Death Anxiety, and Obsessive-Compulsive questionnaires were used for data collection. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation, and multiple linear regression were used for data analysis. Results: The findings revealed a significant positive relationship between self-talk and problem-centered coping style. Also, significant negative relationships were found between self-talk and emotional coping style, death anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Furthermore, based on the results of the regression test, self-talk predicted problem-centered style, emotional-coping style, death anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Conclusion: The results of this study emphasize the need for psychological crisis intervention during the COVID-19 outbreak. Also, this study provides an important step in shifting attention to self-talk skills from sport psychology fields toward clinical psychology, especially about the mental impacts of COVID-19.
... However, as Hardy, Thomas, and Blanchfield (2019) noticed, contrary to typical self-talk interventions in sport that place an emphasis on the use of self-talk during task performance, Van Raalte et al. (2018) employed a pre-task intervention. Finally, Hardy et al. (2019) examined the use of first person (I can keep going) versus second person (you can keep going) self-talk, in an 10km cycling time-trial. The results showed that second person self-talk generated significantly faster time-trial performance than first person self-talk. ...
... Further, contemporary research has shown that how motivational self-talk cues are said may influence performance. When recreational exercisers used motivational self-talk cues in a third-person pronoun perspective (e.g., "You can do this", "You're hanging in well"), they performed 2.2% faster in a 10km cycling time trial than when they used similar self-talk in a first-person perspective (e.g., "I can do this", "I'm hanging in well") (Hardy, Thomas, & Blanchfield, 2019). ...
... Therefore, we could argue that M-ST cues most likely led to performance enhancement given that in other studies (a) M-ST has shown to enhance endurance performance, and (b) I-ST has never proven to deteriorate endurance performance (e.g., Blanchfield et al., 2014;. However, as suggested by Hardy, Thomas, and Blanchfield (2019), researchers should examine grammatical features of self-talk to reveal instructive guidance for practitioners once it is possible the use of second-person self-talk promoting more facilitative concurrent appraisals of our demanding time-trial task; in turn, shaping perceptions of effort (cf. Gendolla et al., 2012). ...
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Human beings talk to themselves very often, much more than they talk to others. There are many ways to talk to oneself, and psychology has been studying the positive and negative effects of inner dialogue (self-talk) and how it affects people, their thoughts, feelings, behaviours and interactions with others. Sport and exercise psychologists consider self-talk a cognitive strategy: athletes and exercisers can learn and train it to enhance their performance and well-being. Hikers can also benefit from an appropriate proper use of this strategy. Indeed, practicing and using self-talk appropriately enable participants to improve the quality of their experience. The aim of this article is therefore to promote the knowledge of the potential benefits of self-talk in the context of trekking and to provide hikers and hiking guides with some practical indications for its effective use. Keywords: self-talk; hiking; performance; endurance.
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Objectives: This study aimed to determine the reliability of 10 and 20km cycling time trial (TT) performance on the Velotron Pro in recreational cyclists, runners and intermittent-sprint based team sport athletes, with and without a familiarisation. Design: Thirty-one male, recreationally active athletes completed four 10 or 20km cycling TTs on different days. Methods: During cycling, power output, speed and cadence were recorded at 23Hz, and heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded every km. Multiple statistical methods were used to ensure a comprehensive assessment of reliability. Intraclass correlations, standard error of the measurement, minimum difference required for a worthwhile change and coefficient of variation were determined for completion time and mean trial variables (power output, speed, cadence, heart rate, RPE, session RPE). Results: A meaningful change in performance for cyclists, runners, team sport athletes would be represented by 7.5, 3.6 and 12.9% improvement for 10km and a 4.9, 4.0 and 5.6% for 20km completion time. After a familiarisation, a 4.0, 3.7 and 6.4% improvement for 10km and a 4.1, 3.0 and 4.4% would be required for 20km. Conclusions: Data from this study suggest not all athletic subgroups require a familiarisation to produce substantially reliable 10 and 20km cycling performance. However, a familiarisation considerably improves the reliability of pacing strategy adopted by recreational runners and team sport athletes across these distances.
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Perception of effort, also known as perceived exertion or sense of effort, can be described as a cognitive feeling of work associated with voluntary actions. The aim of the present review is to provide an overview of what is perception of effort in Exercise Science. Due to the addition of sensations other than effort in its definition, the neurophysiology of perceived exertion remains poorly understood. As humans have the ability to dissociate effort from other sensations related to physical exercise, the need to use a narrower definition is emphasised. Consequently, a definition and some brief guidelines for its measurement are provided. Finally, an overview of the models present in the literature aiming to explain its neurophysiology, and some perspectives for future research are offered.
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Nearly all the self-talk cues studied so far have been self-statements. However, the findings of Senay, Albarracin, and Noguchi suggest that interrogative self-talk produces better task performance than declarative one. Two of the experiments reported here were meant to replicate that study, but the expected differences were not confirmed. Experiment 3 showed that if a self-posed question about future behavior was answered positively, task performance was better than in groups exposed either to the self-statement ‘I will do it’ or to a negative answer following the question. However, these differences occurred only in those who self-reported the awareness of the impact of self-talk on their thought processes. This effect and the possible reasons why between-group differences were not found in Experiments 1 and 2 are discussed. An alternative explanation for the results of Experiment 3 is also proposed beside that stressing the impact of internal answer. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ASK THE AUTHOR FOR THE FULLTEXT
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A series of studies was conducted to replicate and extend research indicating that self-posed questions have performance benefits (Senay, Albarracin, & Noguchi, 2010). Studies 1-3 compared the effects of the self-posed interrogative question (“Will I?”) to declarative (“I will”) and control self-talk, and found no significant group differences in motivation, perceived exertion, or performance. In Studies 4-5, interrogative, declarative, and control self-talk primes were compared, and no outcome differences were found. In Study 6, the effects of self-talk on motivation, perceived exertion, and physical performance were assessed. The self-talk groups performed better and were more motivated than the control group, but declarative and interrogative groups did not differ from each other. Finally, meta-analyses of the six studies indicated no significant differences among conditions. These results highlight the value of replication and suggest that factors other than grammatical form of self-posed questions ma...
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Self-talk is a key component of the sport psychology canon. Although self-talk has been widely endorsed by athletes and coaches as a performance enhancement strategy, a comprehensive model of self-talk in sport that might be used to guide systematic research has yet to be developed. This purpose of this paper is to: (a) review theory and research related to self-talk in sport; and (b) present a sport-specific model that builds upon existing theory and research, and addresses key questions related to self-talk. The paper begins with a definition of self-talk, developed with consideration of the discursive nature of inner speech and dual process theories. Extant self-talk models related to self-talk in sport are reviewed and serve as a foundation for a sport-specific model of self-talk. Components of the model (i.e., self-talk, System 1, System 2, behaviour, contextual factors, personal factors) are presented, the reciprocal relationships among model components are explored, and implications of the sport-specific model of self-talk are discussed.
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People often talk to themselves using the first-person pronoun (I), but they also talk to themselves as if they are speaking to someone else, using the second-person pronoun (You). Yet, the relative behavioral control achieved by I and You self-talk remains unknown. The current research was designed to examine the potential behavioral advantage of using You in self-talk and the role of attitudes in this process. Three experiments compared the effects of I and You self-talk on problem solving performance and behavioral intentions. Experiment 1 revealed that giving self-advice about a hypothetical social situation using You yielded better anagram task performance than using I. Experiment 2 showed that using You self-talk in preparation for an anagram task enhanced anagram performance and intentions to work on anagrams more than I self-talk, and that these effects were mediated by participants' attitudes toward the task. Experiment 3 extended these findings to exercise intentions and highlighted the role of attitudes in this effect. Altogether, the current research showed that second-person self-talk strengthens both actual behavior performance and prospective behavioral intentions more than first-person self-talk. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.