Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Cognitive Neuroscience


Robert O. Duncan

Subject Categories

Cognitive Science


Cohesion, Personality, Stress, Performance


Prior research has shown that collaborative learning, or groups of two or more individuals working together towards a shared outcome, and Computer-Supported Collaborative learning has the potential to positively impact learning outcomes. This study aims to add to existing literature on collaborative learning by looking at how novices and experts learn and perform in esports (electronic sports) teams, or highly coordinated digital teams that often compete in stressful environments. Based on Carron’s Model of Cohesion in Sports Teams and Hanin’s Model of Individualized Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF), the current study looks at the relationship between cohesion (i.e., task and social) and performance and the role that personality (i.e., extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and intellect/imagination) and physiological measures of arousal (i.e., mean pulse rate) plays in this relationship. The first experiment observed how experts performed and portrayed cohesion through communication during competition. During the second experiment, novices were randomly assigned to cohesion groups and asked to compete in a novel multiplayer game in two teams of two players. Chi-square tests revealed that both experts and novices made more task cohesion comments than social cohesion comments, experts made more task cohesion comments than novices, and novices made more social cohesion comments than experts. Simple linear regressions revealed that intellect/imagination may predict performance and emotional stability may predict levels of arousal in novice individuals. No other significant relationships were found. A strict Bonferroni correction and/or issues with questionnaire completion would suggest that there are no significant relationships at all. Because of the small sample sizes in task and social cohesion groups, comparisons between groups could not be made. Taken together, these results suggest that, during competition, novices may value social cohesion more than task cohesion, whereas experts may value task cohesion more than social cohesion. Additionally, the results suggest that the amount of time that teams have worked together may impact the effect that social cohesion has on the relationship between agreeableness and performance. Despite its limitations, this study encourages a discussion on how individual and environmental factors affect cohesion and performance in school, work, and sports teams.