Completing the Zen in Performance Management. There has been quite a bit of research indicating the correlation which predicts an inverted U-shaped function between arousal and performance. . In sports, a player who is playing great is at the optimum arousal point and is said to be “in the zone. In sport setting, arousal is often linked to anxiety. Anxiety is a Drive Reduction Theory states a linear positive relationship between arousal and performance. Attention - Low arousal, pick up irrelevant game cues. High arousal, miss relevant game cues. Attention will narrow and focus on something.
Stress is an imbalance between that demands that someone feels and his or her feelings of capably to meet that demands - when failure of these demands has important consequences. Arousal can affect performance in many ways. There are several theories as to how stress affects performance. These are summarized in the following: Drive theory states that the more arousal and anxiety an individual experiences, the higher their performance will be.
This theory takes into account that people have different levels of anxiety and arousal that are unique in making them perform at their best. Some people perform their best with low anxiety, some with a medium amount and others with a high amount. This theory of anxiety posits that when one has anxious thoughts - they will have poorer performance.
Anxiety felt by the body will have an effect on performance much like that of the inverted U theory see above. However, there is little support for this theory.
The catastrophe model posits that as long as there are lower thoughts of anxiety, then performance will be best at a medium level of physical arousal.
If there is a high level of anxious thoughts worryperformance will be better at a medium level of physical arousal but will suddenly drop off and become very poor.
There is a breaking point when performance decreases dramatically. But too much or too little will work against the learner.
You want some mid-level point of arousal that provides the motivation to change learn. Too little arousal has an inert affect on the learner, while too much has a hyper affect.
There are optimal levels of arousal for each task to be learned: On the other side of the coin is an advanced algebra class. It is a extremely high on the cognitive level, so arousal must be kept low as you need the learners' full attention on the subject matter - too much arousal and you overload them.
Arousal & Performance
You might think of arousal and cognitive levels as fluid in a glass. If you put too much of a ingredient in the glass, it overflows.
If you do put too little in, you are not using the glass to its fullest capabilities. And if you put the wrong ingredients in, but the glass is full, then it does not taste good.
What does this mean to trainers?
Arousal and Performance
Control environmental arousal factors such as the noise level, temperature, comfort, etc. This allows you to put more arousal factors that are beneficial to learning without going into arousal overload.
A colleague of mine once had to give some training at a meat packing company. The only place they had for him to train was in a cold storage room true story.
Arousal, Stress and Anxiety - Factors That Influence Performance
He managed to get through the training by leaving out most of the arousal factors that he normally uses. The cold room had already overloaded the learners' peak arousal level stress and he did not want to arouse them anymore.
When training tasks that are high on the cognitive scale or are highly complex, use less motivators and keep the stress level low. The brain tends to shut certain aspects out when it has too many inputs coming in at once, and the one input that you do not want it to shut out is what your learners need to learn. Some trainers call this brain-overload or brain-cramps. This does not mean you cannot make the material interesting, just keep their arousal on an even keel. Outdoor or physical team training activities require more arousal techniques.
This is where the trainer has to become more of a college football type coach and less of a trainer. The effort to reach the peak arousal point where the most change learning takes place is higher on this scale than cognitive learning.
To reach that peak arousal point you need to provide more stress and motivation. This is why such team training programs as the U. Armed Forces Basic Training creates great teams — they reach the arousal point that is on the high-end for this type of learning.
Tests can be great motivators for getting students to learn But test taking anxiety can push some learners' arousal level over the peak arousal point. You can reduce stress levels by supplying non-graded quizzes and performance activities that provide reassurance and feedback to the learners. When the optimum arousal point goes too low then use activities that get the learners interacting with each other or moving.
Provide inspirational speeches, challenging games, and puzzles. Give a pop quiz. When the optimum arousal point goes too high then take the cognitive focus off the goal eliminate "what if" statements and place it on the process. Take a break, watch a video, stretch.
Play a fun, but interesting game. Provide the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions about the learning to take place as it helps to eliminate fears Anxiety and Arousal Some trainers might believe that all anxiety must be removed from the training environment. But, again, there is an optimal level. And one of the things that motivate people is anxiety. It might help to picture anxiety in three terms as Freud did: Reality anxiety - the fear of a real danger in the external world that alerts the ego to danger.
This is the type of anxiety needed in some types of training, while the next two need to be eliminated. Neurotic anxiety - the fear that one's inner impulses cannot be controlled id.
Moral anxiety - the fear of the retributions of one's own conscience superego. Mild anxiety motivates us in the real world.