Sunday, 4 September 2011

Catastrophe Theory

The Catastrophe theory is a development of the Inverted U theory. In Inverted U theory, there is a steady fall-off in performance following over-arousal. the Catastrophe theory however is a theory of arousal that predicts a rapid decline in performance resulting from the combination of high cognitive anxiety and increasing somatic anxiety.
In reality the Catastrophe theory is more a model than a theory in that it attempts to predict human behaviour and performance rather than explaining how it occurs. the model proposes that performance is affected by the relationship between somatic (Physical) anxiety and cognitive (Mental) anxiety. when cognitive anxiety is high but somatic anxiety is low performance is enhanced however when both cognitive and somatic anxiety are high, performance can suddenly deteriorate. Following this sudden decrease in performance, the performer tries to regain control by decreasing arousal. when they attempt to do this, their performance doesn't immediately return to its original level but remains low and only gradually starts to rise as arousal and anxiety returns to much lower levels. it is also possible that performance will continue to deteriorate.


An example of this is Rory Mcilroy's
 collapse at the Masters golfing event in 2011.
According to this multi-dimensional view of arousal, a high level of cognitive anxiety accompanied by low somatic anxiety is beneficial to the performers performance. the performer normally has a low somatic anxiety some days before the event. as the event gets closer the somatic anxiety builds until it reaches a peak. the somatic anxiety then normally declines as the event begins. If the somatic anxiety doesn't decreases or it increases again during the event the performer may suffer a catastrophic decline in performance and they literally "Fall-Apart". 

8 comments:

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