Objectives: There is evidence suggesting that in martial arts competitions athletes characterized by higher anxiety and harm avoidance may be more likely to lose a fight. This psychological profile has been hypothesized to explain in part the observation that cortisol is higher in losers before and in response to a competition. An important research target that needs further exploration is the identification of phenotypic traits that can be helpful in predicting athletes’ performance. Here we present a brief description of the theoretical bases that drives our research in the evolutionary psychobiology of sports and illustrate preliminary data on the relationship between the 5HTTLPR genotype, salivary cortisol, temperament and competition. Methods: Sixty-five healthy male non-professional athletes provided saliva samples 10 min before and after a kumite session and filled out the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire. Results: Salivary cortisol levels 10 min before the competition were higher in losers and in athletes with the S allele. Temperament was associated with competition outcome and cortisol: losers were characterized by higher scores of harm avoidance and harm avoidance was positively correlated with cortisol levels. Conclusions: The results confirm previous findings linking temperamental traits, pre-and post- competition physiological stress response with competition outcome in kumite fight. Moreover, they indicate an association between the 5HTTLPR polymorphism and pre-competition salivary cortisol, thus providing a preliminary but non-conclusive evidence on the role played by the 5HTTLPR genotype as a vulnerability factor in sport competition.
Cortisol, Temperament and Serotonin in Karate Combats: An Evolutionary Psychobiological Perspective / Ponzi, D.; Dadomo, H.; Filonzi, L.; Palanza, P.; Pelosi, A.; Ceresini, G.; Parmigiani, S.; Marzano, F. N.. - In: ADAPTIVE HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND PHYSIOLOGY. - ISSN 2198-7335. - (2021). [10.1007/s40750-021-00178-0]
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