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Another study by Britton (1986) attempted to identify the nature and degree of

specific cognitive attributes and affective attributes (state anxiety level) possessed by

female junior elite gymnasts compared to a similar age group of females in the general

population. Britton suggests that both cognition and affect are important elements of

athletic performance. Her contention was that there were obvious physical ability

differences between these two groups, but were there also personal and intellectual

differences that would influence performance. The cognitive attributes were assessed

using the Coding B Subtest of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Revised

(WISC-R; Wechsler, 1974), an instrument that measures various cognitive dimensions

of intelligence. The affective attributes were assessed using the Sport Competition

Anxiety Test (Martens, 1977). The results indicated that elite gymnasts differ

significantly in the degree of specific cognitive attributes. These young gymnasts

exhibited superior abilities in short-term visual memory, psychomotor speed, visual-

motor coordination, and the capacity to learn new visual material quickly. The junior

elite gymnasts also demonstrated a higher level of trait anxiety. In spite of their higher

level of anxiety, the junior elite gymnasts still scored much higher on the Coding B

Subtest. Because of this finding Britton suggested that there was no relationship

between specific cognitive attributes and affective attributes for these athletes. She

adds that this is contrary to previous research, which indicates that there is an

interaction between the two, and that cognitive attributes are subject to influence by

anxiety, distractibility, and working under pressure.


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