Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Can Balance Efficacy Be Manipulated Using Verbal Feedback?

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Can Balance Efficacy Be Manipulated Using Verbal Feedback?

Article excerpt

Verbal feedback was used to alter balance efficacy to examine its effects on perceived and actual balance in young adults. Participants (N = 61) completed a stance task, were randomized to either a high or low balance efficacy or control group, and then completed the same task. The results showed that balance efficacy was manipulated as the low balance efficacy group had decreases in balance efficacy. Although verbal feedback did not alter balance efficacy in the high balance efficacy group, perceptions of stability increased for these participants. No changes in actual balance were found. The nature of verbal feedback may differentially influence balance-related cognitions during a challenging stance task in young adults.

Keywords: balance efficacy, verbal feedback, balance cognitions, balance, stability

Self-efficacy is an individual's confidence in his or her ability to perform a specific behaviour (Bandura, 1997). There are four determinants of self-efficacy as outlined by Bandura (1997). The most potent source of self-efficacy is previous or mastery experience, in which an individual experiences success in completing a specific task. Observing another person's success (i.e., vicarious experience) is the next strongest source of self-efficacy, with more similar models providing a greater effect. The next strongest determinant of self-efficacy is social persuasion, which can be in the form of verbal encouragement or nonverbal tactics used by others to influence an individual's self-efficacy. Finally, the interpretation of physiological (i.e., heart rate) and emotional (i.e., anxiety) states is the least potent source of self-efficacy.

One area of research that has received much attention with regard to self-efficacy is balance performance. Balance efficacy is an individual's confidence in his or her ability to maintain balance and avoid falling when performing behaviours such as standing on a chair to reach for an object or walking in a cluttered environment (Powell & Myers, 1995). Balance efficacy can act as both a consequence and an antecedent of balance (Maki, Holliday, & Topper, 1991). As a consequence of balance, individuals who have experienced a threat to their balance (e.g., those who have fallen) may experience decrements in balance efficacy (Berg, 1989; Vandervoort, Hill, Sandrin, & Mathew Vyse, 1990). As an antecedent, low balance efficacy may influence the types of balancerelated tasks individuals perform. For instance, it has been suggested that older adults with low balance confidence avoid activities in which they feel they will experience a fall (Cumming, Salkeld, Thomas, & Szonyi, 2000). This activity restriction has serious health implications since it may lead to decrements in balance ability, muscular strength, and cardiovascular fitness, ultimately leading to decreased ability to perform daily activities, loss of independence and quality of life, and increased fall incidence (Arfken, Lach, Birge, & Miller, 1994; Chandler, Duncan, Sanders, & Studenski, 1996; Cumming et al., 2000; Hatch, Gill-Body, & Portney, 2003; Heaney & Thomas, 2004; Maki et al., 1991; Mendes de Leon, Seeman, Baker, Richardson, & Tinetti, 1996; Myers et al., 1996; Walker & Howland, 1991). Alternatively, individuals who are overconfident may perform balance-related tasks that are beyond their capabilities (e.g., carrying a heavy object, walking at a fast speed, or using a walking aid incorrectly). This type of risky behaviour may contribute to falls in older adult populations (Lundgren-Lindquist, Aniansson, & Rundgren, 1983; Martin, Leary, & Rejeski, 2000; Tinetti, 1987).

Although balance efficacy has been shown to be related to a number of health-related outcomes, the causal relationship between low balance efficacy and these behaviours is not well understood (Legters, 2002). To better understand the influence of balance efficacy on cognitive, affective, and behavioural outcomes, some researchers have used Bandura' s (1997) self-efficacy framework to help clarify the relationship between balance efficacy and subsequent outcomes (i. …

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