Perceptual and Motor Skills

Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1972, 3 5 , 203-209. @ Perceptual and Motor Skills 1972


DIANE KLISZ MELVIN L. SCHWARTZ University of ORkahoma Medical Center Wayne State University

AND KENNETH M. ADAMS Wayne State University

Summary.-The Klove Motor Steadiness Battery (Klove, 1963) was ad- ministered to a group of GO right-handed male undergraduate students en- rolled in an introductory psychology course. Ss were chosen on the basis of MAS scores so that there were 20 Ss from high, medium, and low anxiety groups. Each of these groups was subdivided into auditory or no-auditory distraction subgroups. Ss were tested with dominant and non-dominant hands. Ss in the medium-MA group performed better than those in the high- and low-MA groups. Auditory distraction facilitated performance for the high- and medium-MA groups but disrupted performance for the low-MA group. Performance was generally better for the dominant hand and there were several hand x distrac- tion and hand X anxiety level interactions. Factors relevant to task complexity and to clinical disorders in utilizing this batrery were discussed.

The KlZve Motor Steadiness Battery (Klgve, 1963 ) is a test of fine motor skills which was developed primarily for clinical research on neuromotor dis- orders such as Parkinson’s disease. One particular area in which this test bat- tery is being employed has been in the assessment of the therapeutic effects of the drugs levodopa ( L-dopa ) and amantadine hydrochloride ( Symrnetrel) , both of which have been used with Parkinson’s disease. Knights and Moule (1968) have also used this test battery for the clinical neuropsychological examination of children. Since the level of performance on the test battery can be used as an index of a patient’s drug response, it is crucial that any extraneous variables which might affect the performance be identified and properly taken into account. The purpose of che present research was to determine if anxiety level (drive) and auditory distraction would affect performance on this test.

METHOD Subjects

Ss were 60 volunteer male undergraduate students who were enrolled in an introductory psychology course and who were required to participate as experi- mental Ss for a fixed minimal number of experiments. All Ss were right- handed, as determined by an interview about motor dominance. Potential Ss who used the left hand in any motor tasks of daily living were excluded.


Based on Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (MAS; Taylor, 1953) scores from the larger pool to whom the test was administered, 20 Ss were selected for each

‘Reprint requests to: Melvin L. Schwartz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology, Har- per Hospital, Detroit, Michigan 48201.

of the following categories: low anxiety, range 4 ro 12; medium anxiety, range 13 to 18; and high anxiery, range 19 to 50. The 20 Ss from each caregory were subdivided into groups of 10 for either an auditory distraction or no-auditory distraction condition.

Audirory distraction condirions consisted of a 5-sec. applicarion of a disrract- ing whire noise which had been recorded on a rape recorder. The 5-sec. appli- cation was randomly presented via a rape recorder during 1-min. intervals at ttuee levels of loudness which were also varied randomly. All loudness levels were below normal conversarional level of 50 db The rape recorder was in the ad- joining room.

The Kl@ve Motor Steadiness Battery of 21gl1~ n~brests was administered in rhe following order to all Ss: (1) Resting stcd~ners; ( 2 ) Grooved pegboard; ( 3 ) Groove sreadiness, verrical; ( 4 ) Groove xeadrness, horizontal; ( 5 ) Sreadi- ness; ( 6 ) Maze coordinarion; ( 7 ) Finger tapping; and ( 8 ) Foot tapping. All tests were performed with dominant and “on-dominant hands, according to insuuctions furnished by rhe test developer.

RESULTS Separate repeared measures analysis of variance was performed on the

h e e variables of anxiety ( 3 levels); disrraction (2 conditions) and handedness (dominant vs non-dominanr) for each subtesr as the deyendent ~ a r i a b l e . ~ Data relevant for standardization comparisons as a function of hand utilized is pre- sented in Table 1. The distraction conditions did nor produce any significanr P values for any of the tests. Anxiety conditions resulted in a significant P (5.36, p < .01) on Tesr 2 (rime), and Test 4 (contacts; P = 3.71, p < .05). The distraction by anxiety interaction was significant on Test 3 (contacts and time; P = 7.13, p < .01; F = 3.96, p < .05). Handedness resulted in sig- nificant F values on Tesr 2 (time; F = 17.59, p < .Ol); Tesr 4 (contacts and rime; P = 33.51, p < ,005; F = 31.43, p < .005); Test 6 (contacts and time; F = 18.55, p < ,005; F = 18.74, 9 < ,005); and Tesr 7 (taps; F = 13.21, p < ,005). A significant distraction by hand inreraction was found on Test 4 (contacts; F = 5.45, P < .05). Significant anxiery by hand inter- acrions were found on Test 4 (rime; P = 3.49, p < .05), and Test 5 (con- taco; F = 6.36, p < .01). None of the triple inreractioos (distraction by anxiery by hand) were significant.

There were some significant resulrs found for all resu except resting sreadi- ness and fmr tapping. On the former, almost all Ss achieved a perfecr score. Since chis test is used primarily ro screen our rhose with more severe tremors, ir was unlikely that it would be sensirive enough to disringuish between per- formances in s normal population. On rhe foot-tapping test, the lack of signif-

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Subtest Dominant Hand Nondominant Hand M SD M SD

1. Resting Steadiness Contacts 0.82 1.91 0.90 2.12 Time 0.06 0.15 0.07 0.16

2. Grooved Pegboard Drops 0.35 0.70 0.40 0.59 Time 61.66 10.84 66.97 8.84

3. Groove Steadiness (V) Contacts 2.07 2.73 2.72 2.76 Time 0.16 0.23 0.22 0.26

4. Groove Steadiness (H) Contacts 0.98 1.34 3.05 3.08 Ti me 0.06 0.11 0.21 0.23

5. Steadiness Contacts 48.72 30.61 56.35 30.06 Time 12.13 7.23 13.21 7.22

6. Maze Coordination Contacts 0.75 1.73 3.18 3.32 Time 0.09 0.12 0.29 0.34

7. Finger Tapping Taps 55.50 9.58 53.15 7.87 8. Foot Tapping Taps 48.67 8.38 47.00 8.93

icant findings may be related to the relatively incompletely established foot dominance (as compared to handedness) and the probably very small effects of practice in rapid foot tapping.

There was a significant main effect for anxiety ( p < .01) on time to com- plete the grooved pegboard test. Comparisons of the group means were made by using the Newman-Keuls method (Winer, 1964). The high- and low-MAS groups had significantly poorer performances ( p < .01) than the medium-MAS group, supporting the general finding that with complex tasks, medium anxiety levels yield optimum performance (McKeachie & Doyle, 1966). The grooved pegboard test probably fits into the category of a complex test for two reasons. First, there is a spatial analysis, because Ss have to rotate the peg so that it would match the changing angles of the outline in the pegboard. Second, Ss were working under time pressure, because the instructions were to fill in the board as quickly as possible. The complexity of this test probably increased the al- ready high drive state of the high-MA group to such a level that a performance decrement occurred. On the other hand, the complexity of this test may have been so discouraging to the low-MA group that there was not a sufficient amount of drive to produce optimal performance. This latter finding seems to lend support to Knights and Moule’s (1968) conclusion that carelessness can cause poorer performance on this battery, at least insofar as data from children is concerned.

There was also a significant effect for handedness on time to complete the grooved pegboard test (9 < .01). Performance was better for the non- dominant hand ( p < .O5). This result may have been an artifact of the test-

ing procedure. Since [he order of testing was the samc as i n rhe clinical situation (dominanr-hand first), this resulr may represent a transfer of training ro the non-dominanr hand.

On the verrical steadiness tesr, there was a significant inreracrion of anxiety wirh audirory distraction for borh number of contacts and cr~mulative time of contact ( p < .01, p < .05, respecrively). The low-MA group performed berrer rhan the medium-MA and high-MA groups (borh e < .05) under the no-audirory disrraction condirion. However, while the high- and medium-MA groups perforrncd berter on rhe auditory disrracrion condirion, the low-MA group did much poorer ( p < .01). It seems, rherefore, thar auditory dis- rracrion may have served ro increase drive in rhe high- and medium-MA groups, and since the rest was a rather simple one, these groups performed berrer. The audirory distraction probably had a differenr effecr on the low-MA group. Un- like the high- and medium-MA groups, who had at least an average level of drive, the low-MA group had a lower than average drive. Under an audirory distraction condirion, the disvacrion may have disropred anention more rhan it increased drive for the low-MA group. Consequently, there was a decremenr in performance for the low-MA group.

There were three significant resulrs for number of conracts in the horizonral sreadiness r s r . Firsc, there was a main effect for anxiety level. Comparisons of group means by the Newman-Keul’s method showed rhar performance of low- and high-MA groups was significantly poorer ( p < .01, 9 < 05 respec- tively) rhan the performance of the medium-MA group. This result supported rhe contention that medium levcls of ,n . , t ry are often associared with oprimum performance. The resulrs also s~cxc,r rhar rhere may be some difference between rhe horizonral and verllc 11 \rcrAness rests. The general results of the horizonral steadiness resr seem co Sc moie like those of the complex grooved pegboard re= concerning performance of anxiery groups This may be an in- dication thar the skills required i n rhe horizontal steadiness test may be more complex (difficult) than in the vertical steadiness rest. Secondly, there was a disrracrion by hand interacrion for conracrs ( p < .05). Wirh the dominant hand, performance was better in the no-aoditory distraction condition. How. ever, although performance was worse for the non-dominant hand in borh rhe audirory disrracrion and no-auditory distraction conditions, there was less per- formance decrement in the audirory disrracrion condirion. I t seems, therefore, char the arousing properties of the audirory distraction had a debilitating effecr for rhe non-dominant hand. Third, rhere was a significant difference berween performance wirh rhe dominanr and non-dominant hands. Performance was significanrly better with [he dominanr hand ( p < 0 1 ) . Because of rhe fine motor control needed in rhis tesr, i t is nor unusual that the performance of the dominant hand was berrer, since one has more fine moror pracrice wirh the dominant hand.


In the horizontal steadiness test, there was a significant effect for handed- ness and an anxiety by hand interaction ( p < .O5) for cumulative time of contacts. As in the number of contacts, there was a significant difference in cumulative time of contacts between dominant and non-dominant hands. Per- formance was significantly better with the dominant hand for probably the same reason: the dominant hand has been used more often.

With respect to the anxiety by hand interaction, the high- and low-MA groups had an almost parallel decrement in performance with the non-dominant hand. However, the medium-MA group had only a slight decrement in per- formance with the non-dominant hand. This result tends to support the no- tion that medium-MA groups perform better than high- and low-MA groups on complex tasks. In this case, the test was probably more complex when the non-dominant hand was used, because the individual would not ordinarily use his non-dominant hand for such a task.

On the steadiness test, there was an interaction for anxiety by hand in the number of contacts. With the dominant hand, the medium-MA group had the best performance, while the high-MA group had the worst performance. With the non-dominant hand, however, the performance was best in the high-MA group and worst in the low-MA group. In this case, it seems that a high level of anxiety facilitated performance with the non-dominant hand. This test was different from the others in the battery in that all the others, except also for the first test, involved some type of arm or hand movement. This test differed from the first test, resting steadiness, in that neither the arm nor the wrist were resting on the table. In other words, it was perhaps the “purest” test of steadiness. Although the results with the dominant hand conformed to the general findings on the other steadiness tests (the medium-MA group performed much better than the high- and low-MA groups), the results with the non-dominant hand were different (the high-MA group performed best, medium-MA group performed second best, and the low-MA group had the poorest performance). Thus, for the non-dominant hand, there was a linear relationship between performance and anxiety level.

In the maze-coordination test, there was a significant effect for handedness for both the number of contacts and cumulative time of contacts. Performance of the dominant hand was significantly better than that of the non-dominant hand. This was probably due to the better coordination of the dominant hand as a result of continued use in ordinary situations. Neither anxiety nor distrac- tion seemed to influence ~erformance on this test. This may be because most Ss had perfect scores on this test. Hence, it was probably not as sensitive as some of the other tests.

Performance was significantly better for the dominant hand in the finger tapping test. This was probably the result of the greater use of the dominant hand in daily tasks.

208 D. KLISZ. E 7 AL.

DISCUSSION The resulrs for the different anxiety groups indicare that, in general, medium

anxiety is associated wirh optimum performance. In other words, rhere is a suf- ficienr amount of drive in the medium-MA group to facilirare performance, but rhere is nor so much drive char performance is disrupred. Also, high- and medium-MA groups performed berter under some condirions of audirory dis- traction, while the low-MA groop performed wor r . The auditory distraction probably increased the drive in the high- and medium-MA groups. while in rhe low.MA group, there was nor a sufficient amount of drive ro be affected by an audirory distracrion. Instead, in rhe low-MA group, rhe audirory disvacrion was probably very disrupting, because it caused an atrentional shifr ro rhe dis- traction icself. In a rest of steadiness involving movement of rhe a m , high-MA Ss performed much berrer wirh the dominant hand, bur in a test involving no movement of the hand or arm, rhe high-MA Ss performed much berter wirh the non-dominant hand. This seems ro be an indication thar high levels of anx- iery can have a facilitating effect on “rypical” (with use of dominant hand) and “non-typical” (with use of non-dominanr hand) approaches to a motor task. Whether the rypical or non-typical approach is facilirared seems to de- pend upon rhe presence or absence of arm movemenr.

The general findings in regard to audirory disrracrion are thar, on one rest, it facilitated performance for high- and medium-MA groups, while it dis- rupted performance for the low-MA group; and on another test, ir was associared wirh betrer performance with rhe dominant hand, but poorer performance with rhe non-dominanr hand. The larrer result is probably due to the facr that it is generally harder to perfotm a task with rhe non-dominant hand, conrquenrly, any variable which disrupts artenrion may have a greater effecr on this wealter response. Ir should be mentioned that the audirory disrracrion used in the present research was minimal (below 50 db) . Higher levels of auditory dis- traction might have had a more pervasive effect. In general, there was better performance wirh rhe dominant hand, excepr for the cases in which it seemed rhar there mighr have been a transfer of training.

The prevnr research seemed ro indicate rhat performance on various sub- tests of a motor steadiness battery could be affected by manifest anxiety and auditory disrracrion. High- and low-MA levels resulted in poorer performance on several subtesrs, while medium-MA levels were most often associated with the betrer performance. Audirory distraction also had an effect. On one sub- test, ir seemed to facilitate performance of high- and medium-MA groups, while it disrupted performance of rhe low-MA group. Audirory distraction was also associated with betrer performance wirh rhe dominant hand, but poorer per- formance with rhe non-dominant hand. In general, performance was berrer with the dominant hand.

Although the present research has demonstrated thar performance on the


Kl@ve Motor Steadiness Battery can be affected by extraneous variables, re- search in at least two additional areas seems indicated. First, since there is a significant difference between the distributions of manifest anxiety scores for males and females (Jahnke & Crannell, 1964), the research should be replicated with female Ss. Second, and more important, the research should be replicated with neuromotor disease patients to determine if the phenomena are the same for this group. ~ d d i t i o n a ~ ~ , one could also replicate the research on the indi- vidual subtests to determine if order effects may account for some of the results.


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KNIGHTS, R. M., & MOULE, A. D. Normative data on the motor steadiness battery for children. Percegtual and Motor Skills, 1968, 26, 643-650.

TAYLOR, J. A. A personalicy scale of manifest anxiety. Journal of Abnormul and So- cial Psrchology, 1953, 48 , 285-290. -.

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Accepted May 26, 1972.

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