Effects of anxiety on the execution of police arrest and self-defense skills

P.G. Renden, H.M. Landman, S.F. Geerts, S.E.M. Jansen, G.S. Faber, G.J.P. Savelsbergh, R.R.D. Oudejans

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    We investigated the effects of anxiety on the execution of police officers' arrest and self-defense skills. Police officers (n=13) performed three tasks in which they kicked, blocked, or restrained an opponent who attacked them with a rubber knife (low anxiety, LA) or a shock knife (high anxiety, HA) in a within-subject design. We analyzed performance (on a 5-point Likert scale), movement times, posture, and movement velocity and acceleration. Results revealed that performance was worse in the HA compared to the LA condition. Furthermore, analysis of full-body movement showed that under increased anxiety, police officers' performance contained characteristics of avoidance behavior, such as faster reactions (to reduce the time being exposed to the threat), leaning further backward (kick), and ducking down (block). In line with recent theoretical developments, it appears that under increased anxiety, police officers were less able to inhibit stimulus-driven processing (fear of getting hit) and enforce goal-directed processing (perform the skill as well as possible) leading to avoidance behavior and a decrease in performance. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)100-112
    JournalAnxiety, Stress & Coping
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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