Boredom, motivation, and perceptions of pain: mechanisms to explain the effects of self-control exertion on subsequent physical performance

Hunte, R., Cooper, S.B. ORCID: 0000-0001-5219-5020, Taylor, I.M., Nevill, M.E. and Boat, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-4897-8118, 2022. Boredom, motivation, and perceptions of pain: mechanisms to explain the effects of self-control exertion on subsequent physical performance. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 63: 102265. ISSN 1469-0292

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Objectives: Prior self-control exertion has been shown to have a detrimental effect on subsequent physical performance. However, some potential underpinning mechanisms of the effect have yet to be examined. The present study explored whether exerting self-control reduces subsequent physical performance; and also examines the role of boredom, motivation, perceptions of pain, and sustained attention as mechanisms to explain these performance effects.

Methods: In a within-subjects order-balanced crossover design, 63 participants completed a self-control exertion task (incongruent Stroop) and non-self-control exertion task (congruent Stroop) for 4 min. Immediately after, participants completed a wall-sit task until volitional exhaustion. Task-specific boredom was measured following the Stroop task and following the wall-sit task. Participants’ perceptions of pain and motivation were measured every 30 s during the wall sit task. Upon completion of the wall-sit, participants completed a test of sustained attention.

Results: Following the self-control exertion task, participant’s wall-sit performance time was reduced (136 ± 62 s), compared to when they completed the non-self-control exertion task (144 ± 57 s, p = 0.05, d = 0.14). Participant’s task related boredom was significantly higher during the non-self-control exertion task (4.30 ± 1.23), compared to the self-control exertion task (3.82 ± 1.22) (p < 0.001, d = 0.39); but boredom was not different during the wall-sit task (p = 0.79). Prior self-control exertion also led to increased overall perceptions of pain (p = 0.02) and reduced overall (p = 0.01) and initial (p = 0.02) motivation during the wall-sit task. However, no differences in initial perceptions of pain (p = 0.16) or sustained attention (response time, p = 0.99; response accuracy, p = 0.78) were observed. Additional within-subjects mediation analysis revealed that differences in wall-sit performance time could not be explained by differences in task related boredom during the Stroop task, overall perceptions of pain, or overall and initial motivation (all p > 0.05).

Conclusions: The prior exertion of self-control resulted in a decrement in subsequent physical performance. Furthermore, individuals’ perceptions of task related boredom were higher during the non-self-control exertion (congruent Stroop) task, whilst overall perceptions of pain were higher, and initial and overall motivation were lower, following the self-control exertion (incongruent Stroop) task. However, mediation analysis revealed that these mechanisms did not explain the difference in wall sit performance time between the conditions.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Psychology of Sport and Exercise
Creators: Hunte, R., Cooper, S.B., Taylor, I.M., Nevill, M.E. and Boat, R.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: November 2022
Volume: 63
ISSN: 1469-0292
S1469029222001339Publisher Item Identifier
Rights: This is an open access article under the CC BY license
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 16 Aug 2022 08:46
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2022 08:46

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