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Public Health and Sport Sciences

Challenge and threat

We have a particular interest in transactional models of stress that explain individualistic reactions to performance pressure. Specifically, our work has tested the predictions of the Biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat, in sporting, surgical, aviation and medical environments.

We have developed some explanations for the way in which responses to stress can disrupt motor skill performance (through changes in attention), brought together into An Integrative Framework of Stress, Attention, and Visuomotor Performance.

Diagram titled 'Biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat (BPSM)'. At the top is a box reading 'Individual assesses their demands and resources'. From this box are two arrows - one leading to a green box reading 'challenge= high resources and relatively low demands' and one to a red box reading 'threat = low resources and high demands'. Below this are 6 faces with different expressions.

This research has also led to the development of interventions designed to help performers adopt appropriate mindsets before and during competition, in particular focusing on the appraisal of arousal symptoms, and the effect that this can have on pressurised motor skill performance.


  1. An Integrative Framework of Stress, Attention, and Visuomotor Performance. Samuel J. Vine, Lee J. Moore and Mark R. Wilson. Frontiers in Psychology (2016).
  2. The effects of arousal reappraisal on stress responses, performance and attention. Nadine Sammy, Paul A. Anstiss, Lee J. Moore, Paul Freeman, Mark R. Wilson and Samuel J. Vine. Anxiety, Stress and Coping (2017).
  3. The effect of challenge and threat states on performance: An examination of potential mechanisms. Samuel J. Vine, Lee J. Moore, Mark R. Wilson and Paul Freeman. Psychophysiology (2012).
  4. Evaluating stress as a challenge is associated with superior attentional control and motor skill performance: Testing the predictions of the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat. Samuel J. Vine, Lee J. Moore, Paul Freeman, Roy Chandra-Ramanan and Mark R. Wilson. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied (2013).
  5. Individual reactions to stress predict performance during a critical aviation incident. Samuel J. Vine, Liis Uiga, Aureliu Lavric, Lee J. Moore, Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova and Mark R. Wilson. Anxiety, Stress & Coping (2015).
  6. Rising to the challenge: acute stress appraisals and selection centre performance in applicants to postgraduate specialty training in anaesthesia. Martin J. Roberts, Thomas C. E. Gale, John S. McGrath and Mark R. Wilson. Advances in Health Sciences Education (2016).