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Theory of reinvestment in explaining paradoxical performance

There have been a number of studies to support the role of reinvestment on motor performance. Let's have a look at some of these environments. Select each one to reveal more information.

Masters (1992) suggests this process of conscious processing may provide an explanation for why performance deteriorates in severe forms of choking and the yips in sport. Klämpfl, Lobinger and Raab (2013a, b) found no support for this link between reinvestment and the yips. However, they did identify that this may be due to the multi-etiological nature of the yips, and not classifying yips based on the sub-types. Furthermore, research has identified that obsessional thinking about performance was higher in those yips-affected athletes (Bawden & Maynard, 2001). Within the qualitative reports, the yips-affected athletes highlighted increasing effort in order to perform their skills efficiently, thus it is possible that some form of reinvestment occurred, potentially supporting reinvestment as a possible explanation of the yips (Masters, 1992).

Empirical research has provided support for the reinvestment choking explanation (e.g. Gray, Allsop, & Williams, 2013). For instance, Gucciardi and Dimmock (2008) found that experienced golfers, who experienced heightened levels of cognitive anxiety during an explicit knowledge condition, assigned extra attentional resources to the task in an attempt to consciously control their action, resulting in a drop in performance. This was not experienced in the other conditions (task-irrelevant and swing conditions). Other research has suggested performance deterioration occurred due to elite athletes attempting to consciously change their movement kinematics when experiencing performance anxiety (Gray et al., 2013; Tanaka & Sekiya, 2010). The key limitation of this literature, however, is that the majority of it has primarily focused on performance outcome, such as the number of putts holed and the final location of the ball from the pin (Wilson, Chattington, Marple-Horvat, & Smith, 2007). Outcome measures alone do not provide insight into whether reinvestment or conscious control has occurred. For instance, Gray et al. (2013) identified that a detailed kinematic analysis is a more direct indicator of golfing performance than outcome measures alone. Similarly, in recent reviews of choking (Hill, Hanton, Matthews, & Fleming, 2010), it was proposed that research needs to consider and implement a design that assesses detailed kinematic variables in conjunction with outcome measures.

Thinking of other performance environments such as the military and police force, research has also looked at the implications of Reinvestment Theory on shooting tasks. Nieuwenhuys and Oudejans (2010) assessed performance through a range of measures, including effectiveness (shooting accuracy) and behaviour through officers' movement speed, head/body orientation to target and blink behaviour in matters of processing efficiency. When officers were under pressure and stress, they experienced a decrease in shooting performance. Using the kinematic data, the authors provided a number of explanations for this. Firstly, highly anxious shooters moved their body position faster, giving themselves less time for proper alignment of the sights; secondly, rapid changes in head/body orientation led to turning away from targets too quickly and, finally, the increased blink behaviour limited the officers' time of alignment of the weapon to the target, leading to decreased shot accuracy.

Other literature has found that speed of the target or general movement of the target and the officer also increased anxiety in perceptual motor performance, leading to a trade-off in time options juggling threat-related versus task-relevant information (Nieuwenhuys, Savelsbergh & Oudejans, 2012). This approach compromises the visual stimuli and, in shooting sports, makes the competitor compete with immediate concerns for mental attention (i.e. ACT theory) and relevant concerns to properly calibrate bodily movements to adjust the firearm for accurate target acquisition (Causer et al., 2011; Nieuwenhuys et al., 2012).

In a recent study, Malhotra, Charlton, Starkey and Masters (2018) found that individuals with a higher propensity to consciously monitor and control actions and decisions tended to drive slower and were less likely to overtake. Although slower driving does not directly cause crashes, it does indirectly as other drivers on the road engage in unsafe driving such as tailgating and dangerous overtaking.

Furthermore, Malhotra, Poolton, Wilson, Ngo and Masters (2012) found that trained medical students with a high propensity for movement reinvestment were unable to meet task demands under time pressure because of the attentional demands placed on working memory when consciously attempting to control their movements when performing laparoscopic surgery skills, which has since been supported in previous literature (Malhotra, Poolton, Wilson, Fan & Masters, 2014).