Perceived competence and level of task difficulty: Performance and heart rate reactivity

Ana María Pérez-García, José Bermúdez, Pilar Sanjuán, Beatriz Rueda, Ángeles Sánchez-Elvira-Paniagua

Abstract


The aim of the present research was to analyse the relationship between Perceived competence (PC, Wallston, 1992) and performance and heart rate reactivity (HR) on a perceptual task with three levels of difficulty (easy, medium, difficult). More contextualized variables such as perception of threat, self-efficacy and success expectancies, were also analysed. Results can be summarized in the following points: (1) The group with higher PC (n=40) performed better (lower reaction time and error rate) than the group with lower PC (n=40). They also perceived less threat and informed of greater selfefficacy and success expectancies; (2) there were significant interactions between PC and the difficulties with the HR reactivity during the task and recovery periods, indicating differences between both groups in the extreme levels: easy (High PC > low PC) and difficult (Low PC > high PC); (3) the effect of PC on reaction time was direct whereas its effect on the error rate was mediated by self-efficacy. These results were discussed taking into account the relationships between the following variables: competence and performance, effort made versus perception of threat and physiological reactivity, and between generalized versus specific expectancies and behaviour prediction.


Keywords


Perceived Competence; performance; heart rate reactivity



DOI: https://doi.org/10.5944/ap.1.1.540

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