The experimental design utilized in this study tested the phenomenon of trash talk as the pivotal component under investigation. Madden™ NFL 08 Football video-game players (N = 40; Mean age = 20.68, SD = 2.00) were randomly assigned to two conditions in which they participated in two games of Madden™ NFL 08 Football. In the first condition (Silent-Talk) players conducted their first game in complete silence, and in the second game players were permitted to trash talk. This scenario was reversed for condition two (Talk-Silent), players being permitted to talk in the first game, and enforced to be silent for game two. All players in the study completed 5 separate measures for: Madden™ NFL 08 Football Self-Efficacy, Positive Affect (PA), and Negative Affect (NA). Players also completed a short trash talk survey and made two specific choices prior to a hypothetical “Game 3” which was never played. Choices related to a player’s ability to talk or remain silent, and whether to permit their opponent to talk or to enforce them to remain silent in “Game 3.”
Contrary to expectations, performance measures for specific talk and silent games revealed no discernible differences for scoring, rushing, or passing. Although non-significant (p < .05) effects were noted for experimental conditions in overall performance measures, winners differed from losers on these variables. Winning performance resulted in significantly better overall performance measures across both games, with the exception of game 1 and rushing yards.
Players enforced to be silent in the first game (Silent-Talk condition) instantaneously exhibited lower self-efficacy, lower PA, and higher NA than players permitted to talk in game 1. Players’ self-efficacy remained relatively consistent after winning game 1. However, players subsequently instructed to remain silent in the second game showed markedly decreased self-efficacy compared to players permitted to talk in game 2. All the losers in game 1 reported decreased self-efficacy scores following a loss. However, players permitted to talk in the second game showed a significant increase in efficacy compared to players who lost and were also instructed to be silent in game 2. Prior to the hypothetical “Game 3,” after players’ trash talk choices (i.e., talk or silence in “Game 3”, both personally and for an opponent) had been made, self-efficacy displayed a sharp increase for both experimental conditions and outcome (win/loss).
Winners in the talk-silent condition decreased in PA after game 1 and prior to game 2, in which they had to remain silent. However, this decrease was more pronounced for losers who displayed a consistent downward trend in PA following game 1, and prior to game 2 in which they were to remain silent. Winners in the silent-talk condition exhibited a gradual increase in PA throughout the first three measures. Losers reported a slight decline after losing game 1, but a marked increase in PA after being instructed to talk in game 2. Both experimental conditions resulted in a significant increase in PA after trash talk choices were made prior to “Game 3.” This was replicated for winners and losers who both showed increased PA after their trash talk choices.
Elevation in NA was noted for both winners and losers after game 1, but this increase was more acute for losers. Players in both conditions showed an increase in NA after game 1, and both conditions showed a very similar decrease in NA immediately prior to game 2. Winners in both conditions maintained very similar NA scores across the first three measures, whereas losers showed an increase in NA after game 1, before finally decreasing immediately prior to game 2. Across both conditions winners’ NA decreased following game 2, whilst losers perceived NA increased distinctly. After trash talk choices were made, losers’ NA decreased, whilst winners’ NA unexpectedly increased.
The majority (95%) of players chose to be free to talk in “Game 3” of the study. Unexpectedly, many players preferred not to enforce silence upon their opponent for “Game 3.”
The order in which the games were played (Talk-Silent or Silent-Talk) dramatically impacted the amount of trash talk used in the ‘talk’ games. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)