Effects of Attentional and Motivational Priming on Athletic Performance

Main Article Content

Morgan Scott, MS
Kaitlin Burgess, MS, CSCS
Shelia L Jackson, Ph.D.


The effect of motivational and attentional primes on athletic performance was assessed. Thirty-four male, recreational basketball players shot 10 free throws after completing a word scrambled sentence task that primed either autonomous motivation, fluency, or nothing (control). Results revealed that neither prime significantly increased free throw scores more than the control, but fluency primed participants scored significantly more free throws than autonomous motivation primed participants. Results provide support that athletes should try to relax during high pressure situations that require precision. Focusing on the task at hand will hinder performance, while naturally going through the motions will enhance performance. Results also provided support that there is an optimal level of arousal for performing one’s best. Too low or too high of arousal actually hinders an athlete’s performance.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Scott, M., Burgess, K., & Jackson, S. (2018). Effects of Attentional and Motivational Priming on Athletic Performance. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, 6(12), 158-166. https://doi.org/10.31686/ijier.Vol6.Iss12.1263


[1] Adams, D., Ashford, K. J., Jackson, R. C. (2014). Priming to promote fluent motor skill execution: Exploring attentional demands. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 36, 366-374.
[2] Ashford, K. J., Jackson, R. C. (2010). Priming as a means of preventing skill failure under pressure. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 32, 518-536.
[3] Banting, L. K., Dimmock, J. A., Grove, J. R. (2011). The impact of automatically activated motivation on exercise-related outcomes. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 33, 569-585.
[4] Beckmann, J., Gropel, P., Ehrlenspiel, F. (2013). Preventing motor skill failure through hemisphere-specific priming: Cases from choking under pressure. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 142, 679-691.
[5] Hall, C. R., Rodgers, W. M., Barr, K. A. (1990). The use of imagery by athletes in selected sports. The Sport Psychologist, 4, 1-10.
[6] Herman, D. C., Weinhold, P. S., Guskiewicz, K. M., Garrett, W. E., Yu, B., Padua, D. A. (2008). The effects of strength training on the lower extremity biomechanics of female recreational athletes during a stop-jump task. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 36(4), 733-740. doi: 10.1177/0363546507311602
[7] Hodgins, H. S., Brown, A. B., Carver, B. (2007). Autonomy and control motivation and self-esteem. Self and Identity, 6, 189-208. doi: 10.1080/15298860601118769
[8] Hodgins, H. S., Yacko, H. A., Gottlieb, E. (2006). Autonomy and nondefensiveness. Motivation Emotion, 30, 283-293. doi: 10.1007/s11031-006-9036-7
[9] Radel, R., Sarrazin, P., Jehu, M., Pelletier, L. (2013). Priming motivation through unattended speech. British Journal of Social Psychology, 52, 763-772.
[10] Radel, R., Sarrazin, P. Pelletier, L. (2009). Evidence of subliminally primed motivational orientations: The effects of unconscious motivational processes on the performance of a new motor task. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 31, 657-674.
[11] Takarada, Y., Nozaki, D., (2014). Maximal voluntary force strengthened by the enhancement of motor system state through barely visible priming words with reward. PLOS ONE, 9(10), 1-5.
[12] Srull, T. K., Wyer, R. S. (1979). The role of category accessibility in the interpretation of information about person: Some determinants and implications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1660-1672. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.37.10.1660.
[13] Wheeler, S. C., DeMarree, K. G. (2009). Multiple mechanisms of prime-to-behavior effects. Social and Personality Psychology, 3, 566-581.
[14] Yerkes, R. M., Dodson, J. D. (1908). The relationship of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit formation. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology, 18, 459-482.