Autonomy facilitates repeated maximum force productions

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Human Movement Science



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Performer autonomy (or self-control) has consistently been shown to enhance motor learning, and it can also provide immediate benefits for motor performance. Autonomy is also a key variable in the OPTIMAL theory of motor learning (Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2016). It is assumed to contribute to enhanced expectancies and goal-action coupling, affecting performance effectiveness and efficiency. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether providing autonomy support by giving performers choices would enhance their ability to maintain maximum force levels. Participants were asked to repeatedly produce maximum forces using a hand dynamometer. After 2 initial trials with the dominant and non-dominant hand, stratified randomization was used to assign participants with the same average maximum force to one of two groups, choice or yoked control groups. Choice group participants were able to choose the order of hands (dominant, non-dominant) on the remaining trials (3 per hand). For control group participants, hand order was determined by choice-group counterparts. Maximum forces decreased significantly across trials in the control group, whereas choice group participants were able to maintain the maximum forces produced on the first trial. We interpret these findings as evidence that performer autonomy promotes movement efficiency. The results are in line with the view that autonomy facilitates the coupling of goals and actions (Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2016). © 2017 Elsevier B.V.



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