The role of expectations, attributions, and consequences in the appraisal of threat for upcoming competitions: an online and a field study


If a team loses across multiple games, perceives this as threatening, is unable to cope and team functioning suffers, we call this a team performance crisis (Buenemann et al., under review). Based on further development of crisis decision theory (Sweeny, 2008), it is suggested that high expectations, uncontrollable cause attributions, and high consequences of game outcome may trigger threat states of upcoming competitions in team sport athletes. In an online study, the three factors were manipulated using case vignettes, but no significant effects were found. However, this might be due to the imaginary situation. In a follow-up study, team sport athletes evaluated expectations, consequences, and controllability before and after actual competitions. Threat of the upcoming game was measured using a German translation of the Challenge and Threat in Sports Scale (Rossato et al., 2018), and the difference between demands and resources. For now, N=131 athletes (25 teams) took part before and after competition. Preliminary results reveal an influence of consequences (b=.21; p<.05) and a surprising negative influence of expectations (b=-.19; p<.05) on threat, and a negative influence of controllability on the difference between demands and resources (b=-.21; p<.05) before competition. After the competition, consequences influenced threat (b=.18; p<.05), and controllability influenced the difference between demands and resources (b=-.24; p<.05). These are preliminary results, because considering the multilevel structure was planned and more participants are needed. Differences in the measure of demands and resources and the CAT-sport scale will be discussed.