Reaction times have been shown to vary based on a variety of variables. Existing research revealed positive overall benefits and inverse relationships between reaction times and athleticism; however, limitations exist regarding the volume of research concerning reaction times and athleticism, homogeneous and small sample sizes, and a restricted range of sports examined. The current study sought to examine if reaction times decreased with higher levels of athleticism. A non-experimental correlational research design was utilized to determine the existence and strength of a relationship between reaction times and level of athleticism among a convenience sample of 40 undergraduate students within a psychology course section of a Mid-Atlantic region online university. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire and an online Fastball Reaction Time test to measure individual reaction times. Results revealed an inverse relationship between Reaction Time and Level of Athleticism (r= -.07047). The negative relationship weakly supported the research hypothesis that decreased reaction times are associated with higher levels of athleticism. The calculated test statistic (r = -.07) did not exceed the critical value, therefore it cannot be concluded that decreased reaction time is associated with higher levels of athleticism in the population and is not the result of sampling error. The investigative team failed to reject the null hypothesis but acknowledged the possibility that the variables may be related in the population in a nonlinear fashion. Further research is indicated with randomized and diverse samples and with potential moderating or intervening variables.
Keywords: reaction time, athleticism, non-experimental correlational study
Does Reaction Time Decrease with Higher Levels of Athleticism? Introduction
Reaction time (RT) has been defined as the amount of time until one begins the required response from introduction of the reaction stimulus (Rosenbaum, 1980). Reaction times differ from Movement times (MT) as movement times represent the amount of time that elapses from introduction of the reaction stimulus to movement of the hand from the starting position to the target position (Rosenbaum, 1980). Shortened reaction times are highly desirable for life skills in general. Reaction times have been shown to increase or lengthen based on a variety of variables, including gender and age; however these variables are not amenable to manipulation by the individual and remain outside the control of the individual. Identification of variables within the control of the individual, which may correspond to decreased reaction times are the focus of this study. The research team hypothesized an inverse relationship between level of athleticism and reaction time. The research hypothesis for the current study is: Does reaction time decrease with higher levels of athleticism?
A review of the extant literature was conducted to determine the state of the knowledge on the relationship between reaction time and athleticism. Review of previous research examining both of these target variables revealed additional effects on reaction time related to inherent characteristics including age and gender. The literature was organized into the areas of: Gender differences and reaction time, Athleticism and reaction time, and motor processing and reaction time. Gender Differences and Reaction Time
Research revealed only slight differences with gender in regard to reaction times. In a study conducted by Dane and Erzumluoglu (2003), 326 male and female participants with an age mean of 15.81, used computer generated testing modules for eye-hand reaction time by pressing a computer key, ‘L’ or ‘A’ depending on whether the reaction time was “right eye-right hand” or left eye-left hand”. Left-handed sportspersons...