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Examines the influence of participating in sport on an individuals psychological make-up does participation in organized sport at an early age result in positive character development?. Sport Psychology.

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Examines the influence of participating in sport on an individuals psychological make-up
  • does participation in organized sport at an early age result in positive character development?

Sport Psychology

Examines the effect of particular psychological factors have on behavior before, during and/or after physical activity
  • is there a particular personality characteristic that is necessary to handle high anxiety situations?

Sport Psychology

Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP)
    • Health Psychology
    • Social Psychology
    • Performance/Intervention
  • American Psychological Association
    • Division 38 (Health Psychology)
    • Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology)

What is a Sport Psychologist?

health and exercise psychology
Health and Exercise Psychology

focuses on the application of psychological principles to the promotion and maintenance of health-enhancing behaviors and the psychological and emotional consequences of those behaviors. Researchers in this area also investigate the role of exercise in disease remediation, injury rehabilitation, and stress reduction.

social psychology
Social Psychology

focuses on individual and group processes in sport and exercise settings. This area applies social psychological principles in examining factors related to the sport participant, coach, team, and spectator.

The Ringelmann Effect thus describes the inverse relationship between the size of a team and the magnitude of group member's individual contribution to the accomplishment of the task.

performance enhancement and intervention
Performance Enhancement and Intervention
  • focuses on research, theory, and practice intended to improve performance in exercise and sport. This area is also concerned with the effects of sport psychology interventions on the well–being of participants in exercise and sport.
some issues
Some Issues
  • Influence of personality on performance
  • Effects of sport on personality
  • Relationship between anxiety and performance
  • Effects of motivation on performance
personality a definition
Personality: A Definition

Pattern of characteristic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguish one person from another and persist over time and situations.

trait perspective
Trait perspective

examine relatively enduring intrapersonal characteristics that account for the unique yet stable behaviors to events in the environment

assessing traits
Assessing Traits

Cattell’s 16PF

  • anxiety, introversion/extroversion, tough-minded/tender-minded, independence/subduedness

Athletic Motivation Inventory (AMI)

  • aggressiveness, coachability, drive, trust, conscientiousness, determination, leadership, emotional control, guilt proneness, mental toughness, and self-confidence
state perspective
State perspective

individual’s regulate their behavior according to the situation or environmental constraints

assessing states
Assessing States
  • Profile of Mood States (POMS)
    • tension, depression, anger, vigor, fatigue, and confusion
  • Competitive State Anxiety Inventory (CSAI)
personalities of athletes versus non athletes

Although differences exist,

a clear pattern of differences

has yet to emerge

Personalities of Athletes Versus Non-Athletes


Compared to non-athletes, athletes are more:

  • Stable
  • Extroverted
  • Competitive
  • Dominant
  • Self-confident
  • Achievement-oriented
  • Psychologically well-adjusted
  • Conservative with respect to political views
  • Authoritarian
  • Persistent
  • Display higher levels of self-esteem
traits vs states athletes
Traits vs. States: Athletes
  • It is NOT yet possible to distinguish between successful and unsuccessful athletes using personality traits
  • However, it is possible to distinguish between the elite athletes and the lesser skilled in terms of mood states
poms and athletics
POMS and Athletics
  • Over-training
    • high depression, fatigue, and low vigor
  • Hyperactive/Misdirected
    • high tension and anger
  • Stale
    • non distinguishable factors
  • a motive or acquired behavioral disposition that predisposes an individual to perceive a wide range of objectively non-dangerous circumstances as threatening

Arousal, Anxiety, and Stress

  • emotional state characterized by subjective, consciously perceived feelings of apprehension and tension.

Arousal, Anxiety, and Stress

arousal anxiety and stress
Arousal, Anxiety, and Stress

general physiological and psychological activation of the organism that varies on a continuum from deep sleep to intense excitement

A substantial imbalance between task demands and response capability, under conditions where failure to meet demands has important consequences (this is typically what we think of as Distress but we can have Ustress)

Arousal, Anxiety, and Stress

a possible relationship between anxiety arousal and stress







A possible relationship between Anxiety, Arousal and Stress

Passive Techniques

  • Conditioning
    • flooding (overload)
    • implosive therapy (hierarchy)

Active Technique

  • Cognitive Restructuring
    • thought reorganization
    • coping strategies (relaxation, positive self-talk, imagery)
    • adaptive self-statements as re-focusing tool
  • Mental practice
  • Covert rehearsal
  • Mental rehearsal
  • Visualization (VMBR)
sport imagery questionnaire

TheSport Imagery Questionnaireis a 30-item self-report questionnaire that asks athletes to rate on a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = rarely, 7 = often) how often they use imagery in five different ways.

Sport Imagery Questionnaire
  • Cognitive Specific (e.g., imaging perfectly executed sport skills);
  • Cognitive General (e.g., imaging strategies of play);
  • Motivation General - Mastery (e.g., imaging staying focused and solving problems);
  • Motivation General - Arousal (e.g., imaging the arousal, stress, and anxiety that may accompany performance); and
  • Motivation Specific (e.g., imaging specific goals and outcomes).
imagery does it help
Imagery: Does it help?

Here are some general principles to enhance imagery:

  • Make the imagery seem as realistic as possible by including all senses, in full color and detail, within a similar emotional context
  • Practice imagery regularly as it may take months before seeing improvement
  • Believe that imagery works, as your attitudes and expectations enhance the effect (Placebo effect)
  • Keep a focused yet relaxed attention while using imagery
  • Internal imagery (as opposed to external) is most effective. Picture yourself actually accomplishing the feat (from your minds eye), rather than viewing yourself from the outside looking in (first vs. third person)

the direction and intensity of effort (Gill, 1986) and is characterized by

the type of choice, effort, and persistence of behaviors (Weiss & Chaumeton, 1992)

exercise adherence
Exercise Adherence
  • 45% of adults are sedentary
  • 65% of children participate in regular physical activity
  • 35% of adults participate in exercise on a weekly basis
  • 10% of adults participate in vigorous and frequent activity
  • 50% of people starting an exercise program will drop out within 6 months
in general why would an individual participate or persist

(from Weiss & Chaumeton, 1992)

In general, why would an individual participate, or persist?
  • Improvement in skills and fitness
  • establishing affiliation, socialization
  • competition
  • having fun
  • Weight control
  • Building self-esteem
key factors impacting motivation
Key factors impacting motivation
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Use of extrinsic and/or intrinsic motivation
  • Goal setting
changing self efficacy
Changing Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy (cf. self-confidence) can be enhanced through:

(a) Successful performance*

(b) Vicarious experience

(c) Verbal persuasion

(d) Emotional arousal (preparation)

increasing intrinsic motivation
Increasing Intrinsic Motivation
  • using positive verbal and non-verbal feedback
  • ensuring some success
  • increased individual responsibility
  • providing a variety of practice experiences
  • appropriate use of goal setting (Locke & Bryan, 1966)
goal setting needs
Goal Setting: Needs
  • Challenging - Will it require effort?
  • Realistic - Is it reasonable?
  • Specific - What is the objective?
  • Measurable - How will meeting this goal be determined?
  • Controllable - Own performance not someone else
goal setting for physical activity
Goal Setting for Physical Activity

Goal setting may be improved by

  • specifying goals in absolute (i.e., outcome) terms
  • setting short-term and long-term goals
  • allowing individuals to participate in setting goals
  • making goals public and be accountable
  • moderate goals, those in which attainment was between 10 and 50%, were best
attribution theory
Attribution theory

is a cognitive approach to motivation

Assumes that people strive to explain, understand, and predict events based upon their own perceptions

What the athlete believes to be true is important for future motivation

outcomes can be attributed
Outcomes can be attributed

Internally to the person (i.e., personal force)

  • Composed of ability and effort

Externally to the environment (i.e., environmental force)

  • Composed of task difficulty and luck
classification scheme for causal attribution

Locus of Control





Task Difficulty





Classification Scheme for Causal Attribution
example from sport

Locus of Control

Example from Sport





Task Difficulty





  • Before competition the athlete should be encouraged to focus on effort versus ability
    • Both effort and ability are within athlete’s control, but effort is unstable from game to game
  • Athletes must focus on preparing strategies that will be effective against task difficulty (e.g., an opposing team) versus luck
    • Both luck and task difficulty are beyond athlete's control, but task difficulty is stable and predictable
causal attributions


Greatest affect


Task Difficulty






Lowest affect

Causal Attributions
the flip side of attrition addiction
The “flip-side of attrition” Addiction

Estimates suggest that as many as 2.5 million Americans are addicted to exercise (exercise addition syndrome)

These individuals continue to exercise even though contraindicated due to other problem (e.g., orthopedic, etc)

exercise and mental health
Exercise and Mental Health
  • 15 million Americans suffer from depression
  • 10-12 million Americans suffer from anxiety or stress reactions
  • Hectic pace of westernized, technological society
physical activity intervention for psychological well being
Physical Activity: Intervention for Psychological well-being

Psychological well-being

  • via sense of mastery or achievement
  • reduced depression
  • reduced state and trait anxiety (endurance exercise)
  • improved cognitive performance

J.A. Blumenthal, et al (1999).

Effects of Exercise Training

on Older Patients With Major Depression. Arch Intern Med: 159:2349-2356



OF OLDER ADULTS: A Meta-Analytic Study. Psych. Research: 14(2), 125-130.

bottom line
Bottom Line

“Eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also exercise (be physically active) ..." -- Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

and still remains the same

Donna E. Shalala,

Secretary of Health and Human Services,


AND still remains the same

"...we can team up to create a new physical activity movement in this country. In doing so, we will save precious resources, precious futures, and precious lives. The time for action - and activity - is now."