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Research Papers On Sports Psychology


Leen Haerens | Nathalie Aelterman | Maarten Vansteenkiste | Bart Soenens | Stijn Van Petegem

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Objectives: Grounded in Self-Determination Theory (SDT), this study examined the mediating role of students' experiences of need satisfaction and need frustration in associations between perceived teaching style and students' motivation and oppositional defiance in the context of physical education. Specifically, we tested an integrated model including both a 'bright' path from perceived autonomy-supportive teaching through need satisfaction towardautonomous motivation and a 'dark' pathway from perceived controlling teaching through need frustration towardcontrolled motivation, amotivation, and oppositional defiance. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: To investigate the proposed paths structural equation modeling was used in a sample of 499 secondary school students (44% boys, M age =15.77±1.16). Results: We found that perceived autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching, as well as need satisfaction and need frustration, constitute different constructs relating distinctively to motivational outcomes. Consistent with the notion of a bright and dark path, perceived autonomy support was related primarily to autonomous motivation, with need satisfaction mediating this association, whereas perceived controlling teaching was related primarily to controlled motivation and amotivation, through need frustration. Perceived controlling teaching also displayed a direct and unique relationship with oppositional defiance. Conclusions: To more accurately capture the detrimental effects of controlling teaching, this teaching dimension along with its consequences in terms of need frustration and motivational outcomes needs to be studied in its own right. It is also discussed that effective teacher training may raise awareness among teachers about the motivational risks associated with controlling practices.


Natasha Carraro | Patrick Gaudreau

Objectives: The main objective of this review was to provide summary effects for spontaneous and experimentally induced action planning (AP) and coping planning (CP) for physical activity (PA). These summary effects were then used to test key theoretical postulates using meta-analytic path analysis, and examine possible boundary conditions via moderation analyses. Design: This review employed a quantitative research synthesis design. Method: Using the method of Lipsey and Wilson (2001), fixed- and random-effects meta-analysis was performed on over 150 effect sizes from 23 correlational and 21 experimental studies. The method of Viswesvaran and Ones (1995) was used to test two mediation models using the correlational meta-analytic data. Group comparisons and meta-regression were used to test moderation. Results: Among the correlational studies, findings indicated a medium-to-large summary effect of spontaneous AP (φ = .41) and CP (φ = .38) on PA. Among the experimental studies, results revealed a small-to-medium summary effect (φ = .24) when comparing all experimental conditions versus all controls and a medium-to-large summary effect (φ = .37) when comparing purely planning conditions versus neutral controls. Support was found for AP and CP as partial mediators in the relation between intention and PA. Numerous significant moderators emerged. Conclusion: This review offers the first meta-analytic estimates of both spontaneous and experimentally induced AP and CP for PA, while supporting the role of both spontaneous AP and CP as mediators in both a multiple and sequential mediation model. Relevant moderators will serve to inform future research in this area. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Paul B.C. Morgan | David Fletcher | Mustafa Sarkar

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to develop a definition of team resilience and to identify the resilient characteristics of elite sport teams. Design and method: Focus groups consisting of a total of 31 participants were conducted with five elite teams from a range of sports. An interpretive thematic analysis using inductive and deductive reasoning was employed to analyze the data. Results and conclusions: Team resilience was defined as a dynamic, psychosocial process which protects a group of individuals from the potential negative effect of the stressors they collectively encounter. It comprises of processes whereby team members use their individual and combined resources to positively adapt when experiencing adversity. Findings revealed four main resilient characteristics of elite sport teams: group structure, mastery approaches, social capital, and collective efficacy. This study extends resilience research in sport psychology by providing greater conceptual clarity of resilience at a team level. The implications of the findings for those conducting research in this area and for those consulting with elite sport teams are discussed. © 2013.


Christian Swann | Aidan Moran | David Piggott

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Objectives: There has been considerable inconsistency and confusion in the definition of elite/expert athletes in sport psychology research, which has implications for studies conducted in this area and for the field as a whole. This study aimed to: (i) critically evaluate the ways in which recent research in sport psychology has defined elite/expert athletes; (ii) explore the rationale for using such athletes; and (iii) evaluate the conclusions that research in this field draws about the nature of expertise. Design: Conventional systematic review principles were employed to conduct a rigorous search and synthesise findings. Methods: A comprehensive literature search of SPORTDiscus, Academic Search Complete, PsycINFO, and PsycARTICLES was completed in September, 2013 which yielded 91 empirical studies published between 2010 and 2013. The primarily qua litative findings were analysed thematically. Results: Eight ways of defining elite/expert athletes were identified, ranging from Olympic champions to regional level competitors and those with as little as two years of experience in their sport. Three types of rationale were evident in these studies (i.e., "necessity", "exploratory" and "superior"); while findings also indicated that some elite athletes are psychologically idiosyncratic and perhaps even dysfunctional in their behaviour. Finally, only 19 of the 91 included studies provided conclusions about the nature of expertise in sport. Conclusions: This study suggests that the definitions of elite athletes vary on a continuum of validity, and the findings are translated into a taxonomy for classifying expert samples in sport psychology research in future. Recommendations are provided for researchers in this area.


Aïna Chalabaev | Philippe Sarrazin | Paul Fontayne | Julie Boiché | Corentin Clément-Guillotin

The role of sex stereotypes and gender roles in the sex differences observed in sport and exercise has been extensively investigated in sport psychology, past studies showing that stereotypes are internalized into the self during the socialization process. Although this research has provided clear evidence of the psychosocial roots of sex differences in athletics, focusing exclusively on an internalization explanation may not allow a complete understanding of the influence of stereotypes in this domain. This article presents two approaches that have been developed in mainstream psychology and discusses their relevance in sport psychology: (1) the situational approach, which considers that the mere presence of stereotypes in the environment is sufficient to affect individuals (e.g., stereotype threat theory); (2) the content of stereotypes approach (e.g., stereotype content model), which suggests that stereotypes about a particular group may be ambivalent, and that this ambivalence may serve to legitimize the status quo. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Luc G. Pelletier | Meredith A. Rocchi | Robert J. Vallerand | Edward L. Deci | Richard M. Ryan

Objectives: Although the Sport Motivation Scale (SMS), published in 1995, has demonstrated validity and reliability in multiple studies, the scale has received some criticisms leading to revisions herein described. The objective of the present studies was to examine the construct validity and reliability of a revised scale sport motivation scale (SMS-II). Design: Two studies were conducted using distinct samples of athletes. Study 1 examined adult athletes participating in a variety of sports and Study 2 examined youth basketball players and swimmers. Method: In Study 1 the SMS-II was introduced and featured various item content changes, a reduced number of items per subscale, the addition of an integrated regulation subscale, and the introduction of a single intrinsic motivation subscale to replace the three intrinsic motivation subscales in the SMS. Relations of SMS-II subscales with each other and with expected outcomes supported the new scale's validity. In Study 2, the structure of the SMS-II and its relations with outcomes were further examined. Results: Results of factor analyses, tests for internal consistency, and correlations among the different subscales and between the subscales and several outcomes of interest, supported the validity of the SMS-II. Conclusions: Discussion focuses on the need for measurement improvement, and potential future directions for SMS-II research. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Benjamin Holfelder | Nadja Schott

Objectives: This systematic review provides an overview of research elucidating the relationship between fundamental movement skills (FMS) and physical activity (PA) in children and adolescents. Design: Systematic review. Method: Prospective studies were identified from searches in Cochrane Library, BioMed Central, Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), PubMed, Scirus and SciVerse Science Direct from 2000 through 2013. We screened the titles and abstracts for eligibility, rated the methodological quality of the studies, and extracted data. Results: We identified 23 studies meeting our relevancy criteria. The quality score of the studies ranged from 44% to 89%. Overall relationships between FMS and PA or relationships specific for gender and skill were identified in several studies. The variety of methods for assessing PA and FMS make the comparison of study results difficult. We found strong evidence from cross-sectional studies for a positive relationship between FMS and organized physical activities. Motor skill competency was only of low predictive value for the physical activity level in adults. Conclusions: The results of this review suggest that a cause-effect relationship between FMS and PA is suspected but has not been demonstrated yet. The identification of a causal relationship appears very important to ensure feasibility of practical implementation. This could provide aids for decision making for teachers and coaches, but also for therapists' decision guidance to create training, lessons and therapy adequate to the target group. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Kerry R. McGannon | Brett Smith

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Objectives: To understand cultural issues within cultural sport psychology (CSP) research, methodological variation has been advocated. Those interested in carrying out CSP research with a 'critical sensibility' are presented with the challenge of deciding what methodology may capture a socially constructed and nuanced analysis of culture, self-identity and experience. In this paper we focus on two qualitative methodologies grounded in social constructionism and their potential for advancing understandings of culture within CSP research: narrative inquiry and discursive psychology. Results: Focusing on what is at the "core" of critical CSP research - cultural praxis - we briefly outline narrative inquiry and discursive psychology, articulate three key convergences between them and discuss how these link with, and build upon, cultural praxis tenets. To further demonstrate the potential of these methodologies for centralizing and expanding understandings of culture in CSP, we next offer distinct methodological contributions of each: autoethnography, conversation analysis, and critical discourse analysis. Conclusion: We close by suggesting that to move beyond theoretical discussions of cultural praxis in CSP, sport psychology researchers might use narrative inquiry and discursive psychology. Doing so allows for more informed and principled methodological choices in CSP research that align with social constructionism, and provides a critical and nuanced analysis of culture, moving forward.


Katie E. Gunnell | Peter R E Crocker | Diane E. Mack | Philip M. Wilson | Bruno D. Zumbo

Objectives: This investigation examined how Goal Contents Theory, Organismic Integration Theory, and Basic Psychological Needs Theory collectively explain well-being and behavioral outcomes related to physical activity over 6 months. Specifically we examined a model whereby changes in relative intrinsic goal contents→changes in motivation→changes in psychological need satisfaction→well-being and physical activity. Methods and design: Participants were 203 adults from the general population (68.00% female; M age =32.57 years, SD=15.73). Two identical questionnaire packages containing assessments of goal contents, motivational regulations, basic psychological need satisfaction, indicators of well-being and physical activity behavior, separated by six months were given to participants. Residualized change scores were analyzed with path analysis. Results: Results supported the hypothesized sequence of SDT. Changes in psychological need satisfa ction mediated the relationship between changes in autonomous motivation and well-being. A more complex pattern of results emerged for the indirect effects of motivation and psychological need satisfaction between relative intrinsic goals→well-being. Changes in competence satisfaction mediated the relationship between autonomous motivation and physical activity behavior. Moreover, changes in autonomous motivation through competence satisfaction mediated the relationship between relative intrinsic goals and physical activity. Conclusions: Findings support a model based on 3 mini-theories of SDT and suggest that psychological need fulfillment during physical activity could be a key mechanism that facilitates increased well-being and behavior. Findings also highlight the importance of examining competence, autonomy, and relatedness independently (rather than as a composite). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Sandra Klaperski | Bernadette von Dawans | Markus Heinrichs | Reinhard Fuchs

Objectives: To test the Cross-Stressor Adaptation hypothesis for females by examining whether physically exercising young women show reduced physiological and psychological stress responses to a psychosocial stressor. Design: Forty-seven healthy young women with different levels of physical exercise (17 not or rarely exercising, 15 moderately exercising, 15 vigorously exercising) underwent the Trier Social Stress Test for Groups (TSST-G); physiological and psychological stress responses during and after stress induction were compared. Method: ANOVAs with repeated measures were used to compare stress reactivity and recovery between the three exercise groups. Heart rate and salivary free cortisol were used as indicators of physiological stress response, state anxiety, mood, and calmness as indicators of psychological stress response. For physiological stress reactivity, the areas under the curve with respect to the ground (AUC G ) were compared. Results: In all three exercise groups, experimentally induced stress led to a significant rise in heart rate, cortisol, and state anxiety; mood and calmness significantly decreased. As hypothesized, the pattern of the physiological stress response differed for the three exercise groups, with lowered reactivity in the more active groups. However, the psychological stress response partly went in the opposite direction: Exercising participants reported a higher mood decrease, suggesting a dissociation of the physiological and psychological stress responses. Conclusions: The findings suggest that the Cross-Stressor Adaptation hypothesis is also valid for young women; however, only with regard to physiological stress response. The unexpected findings for psychological stress response need to be further explored in experimental studies. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Katie E. Gunnell | Peter R E Crocker | Philip M. Wilson | Diane E. Mack | Bruno D. Zumbo

Objectives: To test Basic Psychological Needs Theory (BPNT; Deci & Ryan, 2002) to determine if psychological need thwarting experienced when physically active contributes to the understanding of well-being and ill-being. Design/method: Participants (N=155, 67.70% female, M age =37.46 years; SD age =19.89 years) completed assessments of psychological need satisfaction and thwarting, subjective vitality and positive/negative affect during separate testing sessions separated by 6 months. Results: Scores from the modified version of the Psychological Need Thwarting Scale (PNTS-PA; Bartholomew, Ntoumanis, Ryan, & Thøgersen-Ntoumani, 2011) demonstrated discriminant evidence of validity, evidence of internal structure and minimal error variance. Changes in psychological need satisfaction positively predicted positive affect (R 2 =.16, p < .05), subjective vitality (R 2 =.13, p < .05) and negatively predicted negative affect (R 2 =.12, p < .05). Additional regression analyses revealed that changes in psychological need thwarting predicted negative affect (δR 2 =.11, p < .05), but not positive affect (δR 2 =.01, p > .05) or subjective vitality (δR 2 =.04, p > .05) beyond contributions made by psychological need satisfaction. Conclusions: Overall, these results extend the potential utility of the PNTS-PA as an instrument for use with BPNT beyond sport and support Deci and Ryan's (2002) contentions regarding the critical role of psychological need thwarting. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Chris G. Harwood | Richard J. Keegan | Jonathan M.J. Smith | Adam S. Raine

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to systematically review and appraise the achievement goal literature (1990-2014) with a view to identifying the intra-individual correlates of motivational climate perceptions, and to identify research gaps and avenues in need for further development. Design: Systematic review. Method: Four databases were searched, leading to 104 published studies being sampled (121 independent samples) that met inclusion criteria. Correlates were grouped into 17 categories and qualitative analysis focussed on identifying the associations predicted by achievement goal theory. Effect sizes were calculated using the Hunter-Schmidt method for correcting sampling error. Results: A total population size of 34,156 (χ=316.3, σ=268.1) was sampled in the analysis, with the published mean ages ranging from 10.0 to 38.2 years (χ=16.5 years, σ=4.7). Perceptions of a task or mastery climate were consistently associated with a range of adaptive motivational outcomes including perceived competence, self-esteem, objective performance, intrinsic forms of motivational regulation, affective states, practice and competitive strategies and moral attitudes, and the experience of flow. Perceptions of an ego or performance climate were positively associated with extrinsic regulation and amotivation, negative affect, maladaptive strategy use, antisocial moral attitudes and perfectionism, but negatively associated to positive affect and feelings of autonomy and relatedness. Conclusions: After reviewing the sum total of research in this topic area, the authors appraise the options for future research to make meaningful progress in developing understanding of the social determination of motivation in sport and physical activity settings.


Katherine A. Tamminen | Nicholas L. Holt | Kacey C. Neely

Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (a) explore experiences of adversity and (b) to examine perceptions of growth following adversity among elite female athletes. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five elite female athletes (ages 18-23 years) who competed internationally in track and field, swimming, long-distance running, and basketball. Interviews were analyzed using an interpretative phenomenological approach (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). Results: Incidents of performance slumps, coach conflicts, bullying, eating disorders, sexual abuse, and injuries were reported. The shared 'essential' features of participants' experiences of adversity were isolation/withdrawal, emotional disruption, questioning identity as an athlete, and understanding experiences within a context of perceived expectations. It appeared that as participants sought and found meaning in their experiences, they identified opportunities for growth associated with social support and also as they realized the role of sport in their lives. Aspects of growth include realizing strength, gaining perspective of their problems, and gaining a desire to help others. Athletes' experiences with adversity were seen as part of an ongoing journey through elite sport. Conclusions: Athletes' experiences of adversity may have initiated a process of questioning their identities and searching for meaning in their experiences. Findings highlighted the complexity associated with social support and athletes' growth following adversity. Growth following adversity appears to be a valuable area of research among elite athletes. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


B. Travassos | D. Araújo | K. Davids | K. O'Hara | J. Leitão | A. Cortinhas

Objectives: A quantitative review of the effects of requisite responses and methods of stimulus presentation for assessing decision-making expertise in sport was undertaken. Design: An electronic literature search was conducted in the online databases: SPORTDiscus with Full Text and ISI Web Knowledge All Databases. Articles for analysis were selected according to prior defined criteria. Methods: We considered 111 effect sizes in studies involving 882 expert and non-expert participants. Effect sizes were calculated for six common protocols for measures responses: verbalized knowledge, eye movement measures, decision time, response accuracy, movement accuracy, and movement time. Two moderator variables were also considered to assess effects of research protocols on the dependent variables: " the requisite response" and " stimulus presentation" A random effect model was used to calculate effect sizes. Results: Analysis of moderator variables suggested that expertise effects were more apparent for " requisite responses" when participants were required to actually perform sporting actions and for " stimulus presentation" under in situ task constraints than for other conditions. Conclusions: Future empirical work on expertise and decision-making needs to consider task representativeness in considering requisite responses of participants in simulating performance environment conditions. Use of representative task constraints with performers required to perform sport actions in in situ conditions appeared the most functional empirical protocols to enhance validity of data. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Panteleimon Ekkekakis | Elaine A. Hargreaves | Gaynor Parfitt

Objectives: To summarize the major accomplishments of research on the relationship between exercise and affect over the past five decades and to outline an expanded research agenda for the future. Design: Literature review. Method: Illustrative and historically significant publications on the exercise-affect link were examined. Results: The main accomplishments over the past fifty years include (a) a growing recognition that exercise can have a positive and clinically meaningful influence on affect, with possible implications for the treatment of mental health problems, and (b) the incorporation of affect in exercise prescription guidelines as a method of monitoring exercise intensity and a possible determinant of adherence. Emerging research directions include efforts to understand (a) the role of affect in exercise behavior, (b) the cognitive and biological mechanisms of affective responses, (c) individual differences in affective responses, including the contribution of genetic polymorphisms, (d) the application of exercise in the treatment of addictions through the process of "hedonic substitution," (e) the possible connection between affective responses and cognitive function, and (f) the processes underlying the sense of fatigue. Conclusions: The study of the exercise-affect relationship remains one of the most vibrant and prolific areas of research within exercise psychology. The last few years, in particular, have witnessed a dramatic expansion of the research agenda, addressing questions of great societal importance, increased interdisciplinary interest, and direct implications for practice. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Lynn Van den Berghe | Bart Soenens | Maarten Vansteenkiste | Nathalie Aelterman | Greet Cardon | Isabel B. Tallir | Leen Haerens

Objectives: The behaviors physical education (PE) teachers engage in affect a number of important student outcomes. Therefore, it is essential to study the antecedents of these teaching behaviors. Design and method: Grounded in Self-Determination Theory, this cross-sectional study explored the relations between PE teachers' autonomous and controlled motivational orientations and a variety of observed need-supportive and need-thwarting teaching behaviors in 79 PE classes by means of regression analyses. Results: Control-oriented teachers made less use of an overall need-supportive teaching style and provided less structure during the activity in particular, while they engaged in more need-thwarting teaching behavior in general and in more controlling and cold teaching behavior in particular. Conclusion: Although autonomy-oriented teachers tended to display the opposite pattern of correlates, these associations were non-significant. As the current findings suggest that teachers' actual teaching behavior is rooted at least partly in their own dispositional motivational orientation, they may inform the design of effective continuous professional development programs and interventions aimed at enhancing teachers' need-supportive teaching. Directions for future research are discussed. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Andreas Ivarsson | Mark B. Andersen | Urban Johnson | Magnus Lindwall

Objectives: The main objectives of this article are to: (a) investigate if there are any meaningful differences between adjusted and unadjusted effect sizes (b) compare the outcomes from parametric and non-parametric effect sizes to determine if the potential differences might influence the interpretation of results, (c) discuss the importance of reporting confidence intervals in research, and discuss how to interpret effect sizes in terms of practical real-world meaning. Design: Review. Method: A review of how to estimate and interpret various effect sizes was conducted. Hypothetical examples were then used to exemplify the issues stated in the objectives. Results: The results from the hypothetical research designs showed that: (a) there is a substantial difference between adjusted and non-adjusted effect sizes especially in studies with small sample sizes, and (b) there are differences in outcomes between the parametric and non-parametric effect size formulas that may affect interpretations of results. Conclusions: The different hypothetical examples in this article clearly demonstrate the importance of treating data in ways that minimize potential biases and the central issues of how to discuss the meaningfulness of effect sizes in research. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

A List Of Sports Psychology Topics For Your Research Paper


Sports psychology has become one of the most popular areas of study within the larger discipline of psychology. It’s a study of how sports, exercise, physical activity and athletic performance are all influenced by elements of psychology. Knowing more about these effects is believe to help athletes condition and perform more efficiently. Here is a list of some really good sports psychology topics for your research paper:

  1. Future trends in sport psychology in light of increased evidence showing head trauma in sports like football and rugby. Will these sports be made safer or will the rules remain the same as long as athletes continue to play and people continue to watch?
  2. Understanding how team sport dynamics have changed in the last twenty years and what can be expected in the future. The rise of the superstar has changed the ways teams are put together, and changed the nature of how the locker room dynamics are.
  3. Ways to promote increased physical activities in lower socio-economic areas where good health in the greater population is low.
  4. Discuss the role of the Olympics upon nations where sport activity is virtually non-existent because of underfunding. Is it a good thing for these nations to invest in sports in the years after the Olympic Games?
  5. Using psychological tests to determine an athlete’s ability to cope with the move from collegiate to professional sports. Are these tests accurate? Could team owners and psychologists have guessed from these results if athletes were going to have drug or problems with violence?
  6. What psychological impact does a coach have on a team’s success? Is a well-known coach more likely to have a positive or negative impact? How do players react to each kind of coach?
  7. Are young coaches feeling pressure to win within a certain timeline and does this affect how players perform? Do they put themselves at risk of injury by feeling pressured?
  8. How can sports psychology help in the process of building team chemistry and support among teammates working towards a common goal?
  9. How do athletes manage their emotions when they participate regularly in sports? What happens when the emotions are negatively charged (i.e., a boxer)?
  10. How has sport psychology evolved in the last twenty years? What do you see in the way it will continue to develop and how it will affect the way athletes, coaches, etc., approach sports?

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