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


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



Perceived Competence, performance, heart rate reactivity


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.


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How to Cite

Pérez-García, A. M., Bermúdez, J., Sanjuán, P., Rueda, B., & Sánchez-Elvira-Paniagua, Ángeles. (2012). Perceived competence and level of task difficulty: Performance and heart rate reactivity. Acción Psicológica, 1(1), 31–44.



Teoría e Investigación [Theory & Research]