According to cognitive models of anxiety, anxious individuals show attentional preference for threat cues. This study investigated the relationship between competitive trait anxiety and attentional bias toward sport-related threat by recruiting 20 college and high school archers (M = 17.65 ±1.94 years) as participants. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-T) and Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT) were administered three days before a revised dot-probe task including two conditions (sport-specific cues, life-related cues). The results revealed that the SCAT score was negatively predicted by attentional bias elicited by archery-specific threat cues rather than life-related threat cues. The finding supports the vigilance-avoidance hypothesis, indicating that highly anxious athletes of accurate sports may utilize attentional avoidance strategies toward threat regarding their sport concerns to reduce emotional distress. This study provides prospective directions to develop interventions for efficiently regulating attentional bias patterns of athletes with high competitive trait anxiety.
International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46(4), p.337-347