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Arousal Theories Essay

During the rallies, you could see that their arousal levels were increasing because he kept hitting the shuttle harder and harder each time and because he is in the autonomous stage of learning, as arousal levels increased, so did their performance as they won most rallies.


Drive theory – this theory states that as arousal levels increase, so does performance/dominant response. With cognitive learners, their dominant response is usually incorrect, so low arousal levels work best as their dominant response is decreased. With athletes in the autonomous stage, their dominant response is usually correct, so high arousal levels work best as their performance increases. Inverted U theory – At low levels of arousal, performance will be below par, the athlete is not psyched up. As arousal increases so does performance, up to an optimal point. After this point, further increases in arousal lead to declines in performance. Each athlete has their own optimal level of arousal.

Optimal arousal is higher for more simple tasks and lower for more complex tasks. An increase in arousal causes improvement in performance up to an optimal point (moderate arousal level). After this point, increased arousal leads to deteriorated performance. Catastrophe theory – like the inverted U theory, catastrophe theory claims that as somatic arousal increases then the quality of performance improves. Performance will reach maximum potential at the optimum level only if cognitive arousal anxiety is kept low. If high cognitive anxiety coincides with high somatic arousal the athlete will go beyond the optimum level of arousal and is thought to have gone over the edge, where performance drops shown by a vertical line on the graph. After this, the performer can rejoin the upward curve of arousal and gain the optimal threshold again, to do this they have to lower cognitive anxiety.

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