The effects of noise, anxiety levels, gender, and trials on the cognitve learning stage of a selected fine motor and a gross motor task



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The study of the effects of anxiety upon human behavior has produced significant research in the fields of psychology and physical education. Research in motor learning indicates that all levels of learning a skill are affected by a person's anxiety level. In physical education, most research that examines anxiety compares subjects with different anxiety levels while performing motor skill tasks and/or written tests (Singer, 1975). Stress, to produce anxiety, has been introduced during testing by different means. Auditory intervention has been suggested as a method of inducing anxiety when performing a motor skill. Research indicates that sound as an auditory intervention can be used as a stressor and its use can result in changes in an individual's anxiety level (Broadbent, 1975). Noise can hinder mental effort, cause work inefficiency, and cause decreases in physical performance (Anthrop, 1973). In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act established 90 decibels as the maximum noise level to which workers may be exposed for any eight-hour period (Anthrop, 1973). The average decibel level in gymnasiums during instructional and recreational periods is between 90 and 92 with peak levels exceeding this by ten (Egan, 1972) . Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of gymnasium noise, anxiety, gender, and trials on the cognitive learning stage of a gross motor task (stabilometer) and a fine motor task (pursuit rotor). The subjects for this investigation were 48 male and 48 female volunteers of college age. All subjects were tested for, and shown to possess, normal hearing. The pursuit rotor task was the instrument chosen to investigate the learning of a fine motor task. The stabilometer was the instrument chosen to investigate the learning of a gross motor task. Each subject was randomly assigned to either the pursuit rotor task or to the stabilometer task first. The subject was also randomly assigned to the treatment of noise or no noise. Each subject was given the trait scale and the state scale of the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Data were analyzed first by a repeated measures (mixed model) ANOVA with trials (within subjects), gender, and noise being the independent variables. The pursuit rotor scores and the stabilometer scores were the dependent variables. Secondly, a multiple regression analysis was performed in order to determine the effects of noise, gender, state anxiety, trait anxiety, and selected interactions upon learning (sum of the last five trials of the ten trials on each task). These analyses indicated males to be superior to females (p. < .01) when performing on the pursuit rotor task. Trials was shown to have a significant (p < .01) effect on both the pursuit rotor task and the stabilometer task. The noise/no noise condition had no main, nor interactive effect, upon either of the dependent variables. Anxiety level was not found to interact with the noise/no noise condition in a significant manner. The noise condition was found not to be a significant stressor. Results indicate that the gymnasium noise/no noise condition had no significant effect upon the cognitive learning stage of the tasks utilized.



Motor learning, Noise, Physiological effect, Anxiety