Exploring response inhibition, the behavioral inhibition system and possible sex differences in athletes and non-athletes

Lina J. K. Eriksson*, Örjan Sundin, Billy Jansson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Background: The objective of this study was to revisit the question concerning whether athletes are better than non-athletes at fundamental cognitive abilities, such as inhibitory control, in addition to also focusing on motivational dispositions and possible sex differences. Adding the latter could be crucial since both inhibitory control and motivational dispositions, such as approach and avoidance, are central to goal-directed behavior. Methods: This study’s sample was composed of 93 participants (40 males): 29 biathletes; 30 alpine skiers; and 34 non-athletes. A non-sport-specific stop-signal task was used for the assessment of inhibitory control in terms of response inhibition, and the motivational dispositions were assessed with the BIS/BAS scales. Results: The results showed that there were no differences between the two different sports or non-athletes with regard to response inhibition. However, females showed significantly slower response inhibition than males (p = 0.018) and scored significantly higher on the trait variable BIS (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The results from this study suggest that it might be meaningful to explore the contribution of sex differences and motivational dispositions on response inhibition in conjunction with different types of sports.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6340
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2023


  • Behavior mechanisms
  • Executive function
  • Goals
  • Personality


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