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


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.


Perceived Competence; performance; heart rate reactivity



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Facultad de Psicología. Servicio de Psicología Aplicada.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Attribution-NonCommercial  (CC BY-NC)This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


Accion Psicologica

Applied Psychology Service (SPA), Faculty of Psychology (UNED).

C/ Juan del Rosal nº 10 28040 Madrid.


eISSN: 2255-1271