Executive Function and Mood: The Moderating Role of Athletic Expertise

Robert S. Vaughan, Christopher McConville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Executive function (EF) is known to be influenced by mood, but whether this relationship holds for populations of athletes and whether athletic expertise moderates it is uncertain. Thus, in the current study, we examined relationships between positive and negative affect (i.e., mood), the lower-order cortical aspects of executive function (i.e., inhibition, shifting and updating), and athletic expertise. A sample of 256 participants (55.08% male; Mage = 20.69) completed a self-report mood measure and computerized tests of EF. Individuals with more athletic expertise reported higher positive affect and better EF scores, whereas those with less athletic expertise reported higher negative affect. Structural equation modelling indicated that positive affect was related to better inhibition, shifting, and updating performance but was not related to performance errors. Similarly, negative affect was related to better EF, except for the inhibition latency score. Athletic expertise moderated all significant associations between mood and EF and higher expertise facilitated higher EF performance. Together, athletic expertise is an important individual differences factor in understanding the influence of mood on EF performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-691
Number of pages20
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • athletic expertise
  • executive function
  • mood
  • positive and negative affect
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems


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