Cardiovascular activity was measured at resting baseline
and in response to a car racing game, undertaken in competition
or in cooperation with an experimenter, or individually.
Competitiveness and win and goal orientations were assessed
by questionnaire. Competition provoked increases in blood
pressure and heart rate, and a significant shortening of
the preejection period, an index of enhanced beta-adrenergic
influences on the heart. The cooperation task was largely
without effect, and although the solo task affected cardiovascular
activity, it did so to a lesser extent and much less consistently
than did the competition task. The three task conditions,
then, were largely distinguishable by their capacity to
activate beta-adrenergic processes. Participants high in
competitiveness and desire to win showed higher blood pressure
reactions and greater shortening of the preejection period
to competition than those low in these characteristics.