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Keywords:

  • Cardiovascular activity;
  • Competition;
  • Competitiveness;
  • Cooperation

Cardiovascular activity was measured at resting baseline and in response to a car racing game, undertaken in competition or in cooperation with an experimenter, or individually. Competitiveness and win and goal orientations were assessed by questionnaire. Competition provoked increases in blood pressure and heart rate, and a significant shortening of the preejection period, an index of enhanced beta-adrenergic influences on the heart. The cooperation task was largely without effect, and although the solo task affected cardiovascular activity, it did so to a lesser extent and much less consistently than did the competition task. The three task conditions, then, were largely distinguishable by their capacity to activate beta-adrenergic processes. Participants high in competitiveness and desire to win showed higher blood pressure reactions and greater shortening of the preejection period to competition than those low in these characteristics.