Spontaneous self-talk: An insight into the cognitive component of emotions in sport

Alexander T. Latinjak */**, Jordi Corbalan-Frigola **, Pau Alcoy-Fabregas ** and Jamie B.barker ***

(*) School of Social Sciences and Humanitates, University of Suffolk, UK
(**) School of Health and Sport Sciences, EUSES, University of Girona, Spain
(***) School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, UK


T. Latinjak, A., Corbalan-Frigola, J., Alcoy-Fabregas, P., B.barker, J. (2020). Spontaneous self-talk: An insight into the cognitive component of emotions in sport. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(1), 28-46. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.028


The purpose of this study was to examine the content of spontaneous self-talk, that is non-instrumental statements that come to mind unbidden and effortlessly, in positive and negative emotion-eliciting situations. Thirty male athletes answered, in one-to-one meetings with a trained research assistant, a booklet with questions on spontaneous self-talk in situations eliciting anger, anxiety, excitement and euphoria. Our results yielded light, generally, on the structure of spontaneous self-talk in emotion- eliciting situations, and particularly, on the content of spontaneous self-talk in each type of emotion-eliciting situation. Particularly, most spontaneous self-talk was positive and anticipatory with excitement (68%), positive and retrospective with euphoria (68%), negative or neutral and anticipatory with anxiety (78%), and negative and retrospective with anger (85%). Hence, specific interventions for each emotion, and its corresponding spontaneous self-talk, are proposed.

Keywords: Athletes, Emotion regulation, Sport, Time perspective, Thoughts, Valence