Salivary testosterone and cortisol : role of athletic setting, game outcome, and game location /
Carré, Justin M.
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Many studies investigating the relationship between hormones and competition have focused on athletic competition. The athletic setting enables r researchers to investigate the hormone-behaviour relationship in a relatively controlled environment. However, research to date has been based on observations made from single status contests and/or weekend tournaments and as such, does not provide a clear picture of an individual's average hormonal responses to both victory and defeat. In appreciation of this limitation, the current study tracked elite hockey players throughout a hockey season, measuring pre- and post-game salivary testosterone and Cortisol as well as psychological measures. I was interested in determining whether status outcome (win vs. loss) would influence an individual's testosterone and Cortisol responses to competition. Furthermore, I was also interested in assessing whether testosterone and Cortisol responses were specific to the competitive environment or whether similar hormonal responses would occur during non-competitive practice sessions. Last, I was interested in whether there were any differences in pre-game hormonal and psychological states depending on where the status contest was held: home versus away. The results indicated that game outcome moderated the testosterone responses to competition. That is, testosterone increased significantly more after a victory compared to a defeat. Furthermore, a loss of status produced significantly hreports, the players did not show an anticipatory rise in either Cortisol or testosterone prior to competition. In addition to the effects of status outcome on hormonal levels, it was also found that these hormonal responses were specific to competition. The athletes in the current study did not demonstrate any hormonal responses to the practice sessions. Last, there were significant differences in pre-game testosterone as well as in selfconfidence, cognitive, and somatic anxiety levels depending on the location at which the status contest took place. Pre-game testosterone and self-confidence levels were significantly higher prior to games played in the home venue. In contrast, pre-game somatic and cognitive anxiety levels were significantly higher prior to games played in the away venue. The current findings add to the developing literature on the relationship between hormones and competition. This was the first study to detect a moderating effect of status outcome on testosterone responses in a team sport. Furthermore, this was also the first study in humans to demonstrate that post-contest Cortisol levels were significantly higher after a loss of status. Last, the current study also adds to the sport psychology literature by demonstrating that pre-game psychological variables differ depending on where the status contest is being held: higher self-confidence at home and higher somatic and cognitive anxiety away. Taken together, the results from the current thesis may have important practical relevance to coaches, trainers and sport psychologists who are always trying to find ways to maximize performance. post-game Cortisol levels than did an increase in status. In contrast to previous