Sport Psychology Revision

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 11-04-11 10:53


"Sum total of an individuals Characteristics which make a human unique"

Affects the quality of performance and participation

Three views:

  • Trait Perspective
  • Social learning Perspective
  • Interactionist Approach
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Trait Perspective

Personality Made up of different secondary inherited traits from parental genes

  • Innate
  • Consistent over situations
  • Stable

Behaviour = Function of personality

(-) Does not take into account people adapt their behaviour to the environmental situations

(-) Or the influence other people have on personality 

Two theories which are linked to the trait Perspective

  • Personality types
  • Narrow Band Theory
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Personality Types

Proposed by Eysenck and Cattell

Four personality Types:


  • Affiliate well with others (connect)
  • Outgoing, Sociable 
  • Aroused more slowly, Low sensitivity to reticular activating System (RAS)


  • Shy
  • Isolate from others
  • Aroused more quicky, High sensitivity to RAS


  • Extreme unpredictable emotions (mood swings) - moods unreliable
  • High degree of stress
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Personality Types Continued


  • Predictable emotions in situations (moods predictable)
  • Dont experience high stress

Eysenck added third scale - Psychoticism (Tender/tough minded people are) 

(-) Cattell examined 16 personality factors as said 3 dimensions was not enough

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Narrow Band theory

Proposed by Girdano

Two distinct Personality Types:

Type A:

  • Highly competitive 
  • Works fast
  • Likes control
  • Strong desire to succeed
  • Prone to stress

Type B:

  • Non competitive 
  • Works slowly
  • Does not like being in control 
  • Lacking desire to succeed
  • Less prone to stress
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Social Learning Perspective

Proposed by Bandura

Can be known as Vicarious Learning

Behaviour is learnt by environmental experiences and through influence of others

Behaviour = Function of environment

Two processes:

  • Behaviour being imitated through observation
  • Behaviour being acquired through social reinforcement 

Can occur through

  • Role models (powerful, who they look to be like)
  • Gender
  • Adopt the norms of a new team

(-) Does not account for genetically inherited factors

(+) Provides an explanation to why differences in aggression, attitude and motivation.

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Interactionist Approach

Proposed by Hollander 

Personality has three levels that form personality

  • Psychological Core (Internal, stable and constant over time)
  • Typical Response (Changeable/learnt behaviours, change to environment)
  • Role Related Behaviour (External, Dynamic, changeable. Adjust to fulfill different roles student,friend)

Behaviour = Function of personality x environment

Combines two other theories

Personality and behaviour form when innate traits are trigged in environmental situations

(+) offers explanation to why personality can change in different situations

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Effects of Personality on Balanced Active and Heal

(+) Eysenck Et al: People attracted to sport scored highly on extroversion & psychoticism

(+) Schurr: Found athletes to be more independent and less anxious

(+) Francis et al: Hockey players were high extroverts compared to non hockey player

(-) McKelvie: Found no difference in extroversion however athletes more stable

(-) Weinberg and Gould: No specific personality profile has been found distinguishing athletes from non athletes

  • Exercise can increase self esteem
  • Type A linked to anger - cardiovascular disease which aerobic exercise reduced

(-) Gill: Sport can not fundamentally change personality

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Evaluate Critically Personality Profiling

(-) Link cant be proved

(-) No evidence that a sports personality exists

(-) Conclusions may be influenced by personal opinions

(-) Results often inaccurate and invalid

(-) Performer may modify behaviour to match up to profile

(-) Questions on questionnaire may not be answered correctly

(-) Profiling may stereotype a person

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Profile of Mood State


Moods are an Important aspect of personality which may influence sports performance

  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Vigour (outgoing)
  • Fatique
  • Confusion

Iceberg profile

Profiles of mood states for successful athletes were above norm on vigour but below norm for negative moods

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Mode of behaviour that is a typical response of an individual

  • Can last throughout life, or can be unstable/ changable
  • attitude directed towards an attitude object (place/situation/behaviours)
  • Long standing attitudes may affect behaviour forming prejudice (unfair opinion)
  • This may reduce the possibility of young people participating in sport

Pleasant experience = promote a positive attitude towards sport

Unpleasant experience = bring a negative attitude

Socialisation key element in formation of an attitude

  • Parents - encourage positive attitudes
  • Peer groups - Friends participe so  coform
  • Media - Stimulate formation
  • Culture - relgion, race, class
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Components of Attitudes

Triadic Model of attitude - attitude comproses of three compnents

Cognitive: Beliefs and knowledge (you know exercising is a physiological benefit)

Affective: Emotional response ( evalutation of an attitude is made - exercising is pleasurable)

Behavioural: How a person intends to behave or respond to an attitude (will continue to participate in sport)


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Changing attitudes

Cognitive Dissonance Theory - Festinger

  • If two components come into conflict with one another = experience dissonance (emotional comfort)
  • Overweight person has a bad experience therefore dislike exercise and find it hard to work, however they need to too feel better about themselves (attitude components negative)
  • Cognitive normally comes into conflict with behavioural
  • Affective componenet can be modified by new and positive experiences
  • Behavioural component can be modified by guidance

Persuasive Communication theory

Within the cognitive dissonance theory as a technique to change attitudes

  • Persuader -High status
  • Message- presented in a positive way
  • Recipients - need to want to change the attitude
  • Situation - Easily changable if there are other persuaders


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Critical Evaluation of Attitudes

(-) Poor predictors of behaviour wont indicate alone a lifestyle choice

(-) Dishmann - Individuals positive attitudes do not guarantee they will commit to an exercise programe - only influence

(+) Fishbein - Attitudes are more likely to predict behaviour when more specific

When a person makes a clear commitment - this is the most accurate predictor of behaviour

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Achievement Motivation

Links personality with degree of competitveness

Focus: to extent to which an individual is motivated to succeed

Murray - Its naturak for one individual to strive against another

Bandura - Competitive drive is a product of learning

Theory connected - Interactionist theory = Atkinson and McClelland - Predicts that achievement motivation is generated through a combination of personality and situational factors

  • Achievement motivation is a personality trait - activated by a situation = this comprises the probability of success (Task found to be easier) and the value experienced after success has been achieved
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Two personality types traits that determine achiev

High Need to Achieve

  • High need to achieve
  • Low need to avoid failure (risk taker)
  • Characteristics: Approach behaviour adopted, risks taken, success associated to internal factors - failure seen as route to success
  • Examples: rock climber, Rugby player

Low need to Achieve

  • low need to achieve
  • High need to avoid failure
  • Characteristics: Aviodance behaviour adopted, challenge rejected, success linked with external factors, Failure internal factors - Failure seen as route to futher failure

Atkinson and McClelland theory best at predicting behaviour: Trigger motivation to achieve or anxiety

(-)Success can be interpreted in different ways (victory, personal achievment)

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Attribution Theory

Identifies the reasons given by a performer to explain success and failure

Wieners Model

Structured into two dimensions:

  • Locus of Causality: Whether attribution relates to factors that are internal/external (internal-effort, external-task difficulty)
  • Stablility: Whether attributes are stable/unstable (stable-unchangable[ability],unstable- temporary[luck]
  • Third dimension:control: key factor in process of attribution retraining(changing a perfomers perception of the failure - raises confidence, changes aviodance to approach behaviour)

Strong link between attribution and Achievment motivation

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Attribution theory cont.

High achievers

  • adopt approach behaviour (success to internal factors - ability)
  • failure is put down to bad luck - seen as a setback
  • Achievement encourages a physically active lifestyle
  • Try to aviod failure

Low achievers

  • Attribute a lack of success to internal factors (lack of ability)
  • adopt aviodance behaviour
  • Success attriubuted to external factors (good luck)
  • Reduces confidence and reduce expectation of future achievement
  • negative application of attribution
  • This may cause them to avoid an activity
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Effects of attribution on a balanced active health

Positive application of Attribution

Success (internal attributions) : endorse mastery oreintation, elevate confidence, develop pride, increase expectation of success

Failure (external attributions): sustain confience, eliminate shame, improve expectation of success

Negative application of Attribution

Success (external attributions): Takes away pride, and the value achieved from mastery orientation

Failure (internal attributions): Takes away confidence, leads to learned helplessness

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Aggression is to harm an oppenent - voilate the rules of any game. Often aggressive player - disrupt teams performance.

Assertion is a channelled aggression

  • Does not attempt to harm - and is within the rules and spirit
  • Involves forceful play
  • described by Parens - Non hostile self protective mastery behaviour

Theories of Aggression

  • Instinct theory - Frued (aggression genetically inherited)
  • Social Learning Theory - Bandura (Nutured through enviro factors-learnt through copying role models)
  • Frustration aggression hypothesis - Dollard (environmental circumstance stimulates a personality gene - frustration occurs when goal directed behaviour is blocked-triggering aggressive gene)
  • Aggression cue hypothesis -Berkowitz (frustration creates a readiness for aggression - if arousal is high)
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Methods to eliminate Aggression

Cognitive techniques

  • Mental rehersal
  • Forgetting
  • counting up to 10
  • Positive self talk

Somatic techniques

  • relaxation techniques
  • walking away
  • breathing exercises
  • bio feedback

Silva - Hostile aggression (intention to harm) increases arousal reducing concentration- poor performance

Aggressive performers more likely to get injured and being dismissed from game

Less satisfaction after completing activities - less motive to continue

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Goal setting

Lock: Goal is what an individual is trying to accomplish

Influences performance in 4 ways:

  • Directs attention into required
  • Increases effort
  • Improves persistance
  • Motivated to learn

Goals divided into two groups:

  • time based: Long term goals (extended period of time [health], Short term (Intermediate success- levels of existing capability). Medium term (during short term, endorse effectiveness of short term)
  • Activity Based: Produce goals (outcome) - focuses on end result (deafeting other components, Performance goals - Judgments against previous performance, Process goals - improving techniques to produce better performance)
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Smarter principle

Specific relate directly to task (more effective)

Measurable against previous performance

Accepted set by the performer (more chance of them doing them)

Realistic challenging but still obtainable- motivated

Timed time limit considering it is short, inter, or long duration

Exciting accepted goal provided with challenge - prevent bordem

Recorded this can be exciting and motivating

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Self Efficacy Theory

Self Efficacy: degree of self confidence experienced by a performer

Bandura - as people become competent in skills they develop a positive self-belief that they can excel

  • If you aquire this self belief - High self efficacy (therefore have approach behaviour)
  • people with low self efficacy tend to adopt aviodance behaviour
  • Self efficacy is changeable - the level of self efficacy determines expectations  that influence choices and commitments of an individual

Four sub processes for self efficacy

  • Past performer expereinces, vicarious experiences (watching others), Verbal persuasion (positive communication), Control of arousal (emotional physiological)

Dishman et al - positive attitude motivates and encourages engagement

McAuley - high self efficacy more likely to adopt a healthy active lifestyle

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Sports Confidence Theory

Self confidence: Influences motivation determines decision to participate in a choosen activity

Measures 3 factors:

  • trait sport confidence (innate - relatively stable)
  • Sate sport confidence (developed through learning/ changeable)
  • Performers competitive orientation (extent to which an individual is prepared to compete)

Subjective outcome is the extent to which the athlete percieves performance as successful

  • An outcome percieved as good - increase trait confidence and competitive
  • An outcome percieved as poor - decrease trait - state conf will decrease

Vealeys strategies to improve State confidence - social reinforcemen, effective leadership, environmental comfort, mastery of skill, styling, physical and mental preperation

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Attentional control

Extent to which a performer can focus awareness onto environment stimuli that are most relevant. - involves concentration

  • Selective attention(focusing on specific cue) can be directed by....
  • Stimulsus Intensity (extent to which stimulus is dominant) and..
  • Warning Cues (stimulus presents itself proir to major cue)

Most important determinants of attentional control are...

  • Cognition - Mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge
  • Arousal - level of excitement generated by the CNS

Inverted U theory predicts influence of arousal on performance - as arousal increases so does performance-to an optimum point where beyond this performance will deteriate

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Cue utalisation Hypothesis


  • Arousal is low - perceptual field widens - broad range of cues - overload of sensory stimuli
  • Arousal increases - perceptual field adjust - not as many cues - focus on relevant cues


  • If arousal above threshold - perceptual focus narrows excessively - causes relevant info to be missed - enters state of painic
  • Experience hypervigilance (disorientation of their senses)


  • Does not make clear how the performer can adjust the width and direction of attention in response to the situation
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Attentional Styles


  • Based on two dimensions
  • Width of attention - broad and narrow focus
  • direction of attention - external and internal
  • Broad attention - takes in great enviro info (cues and stimulus) - open skill situation
  • Narrow Attention - required concentration on one or a small number of stimuli - focus on specific cue
  • Broad and Narrow Focus - gradual change in the amount of info to be processed
  • External - projection onto environmental stimulus
  • Internal - projection onto psychological state

Nideffer - optimal performance only achieved if performer has ability to adopt attention style that matches the attentional demands of enviro.

Info overload can result in confusion

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Attentional Styles cont

- correct attention style can help the performer deal with distractions enabling performer to make positive attributions during performance

-good performer uses a full range of attention styles

Arousal and cue utlilisation helps a performer change their attention style

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Emotional control

In order for an athlete to perform at their maximum level they must be able to control their emotion and arousal

Optimum arousal will vary depending on:

  • Complexity of task (complex tasks better performed when arousal is low)
  • Performers ability

Peak Flow experience - feeling where everything is going right

  • Csikszentmihalyi - feeling that the performer has necessary skills to meet challenge.
  • total concentration, clear goals,complete absorption of activity
  • Peak flow is linked too... relaxed controlled anxiety, physical readiness, balanced emotional state
  • Inhibitors - injury, fatique, uncontrollable events, worrying distractions, poor performance, preperation, officals
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individual zone of Optimum flow


Looked at link between arousal theories and peak flow experience

Measured state anxiety proir to performance compared with performance

In the zone = Peak flow - best performance

Each athlete has their own preferred level of anxiety

  • Differs from the Inverted U as optimum level does not occur as midpoint and is not a point instead a bandwidth
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negative feelings a person experiences in a threatening situation

  • Stress can be initiated stressors (any demands placed on the performer)
  • e.g. mistakes - causes frustration, audience / crowd - increase pressure, cup finals, goal prevention, conflict, severe conditions

2 Types of stress

  • Eustress - positive form testing abilities to limit (bungee jumping)
  • Anxiety - negative form lead to increased arousal (high jump knocks bar)

McGrath - when placed in stressful situation progress through stages

  • causes of stress (enviro/external)
  • Response (physiological)
  • Psychological interpretation
  • actual behaviour
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General Adaptation Syndrome model


  • how stress influences us..
  • Stressor - Alarm reaction (fight/flight) - resistance (resist change) - Stressor removed OR exhaustion - stress maintained = illness
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When an athletes performance suffers in an important event

causes of anxiety = expectations, audience, teammates, evaluation

2 types

  • State anxiety (A-state) - situation = threatening situation this is experienced
  • trait anxiety (A-trait) - enduring - innate = view all situations as threatening (football penalty kick)
  • People will experience can learn to cope with high trait anxiety lowering state anxiety

Measuring stress

  • self report questionnaires : (+) easy (+) large numbers (+) cheap (-) biased (-) inappropriate (-)may not cater for exact results
  • Sport competition anxiety test
  • Competitive state anxiety inventory
  • observations
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Controlling Stress and Anxiety

cognitive anxiety - pysiological (thoughts nervousness or worry, loss of concentration)

somantic anxiety -physiological (increased HR, sweaty palms, nausea)

Reducing cognitive anxiety - controlling performers thoughts and attention

  • Imagery - mental images
  • Visualisation - creating mental image of perfect performance
  • positive thinking
  • attentional control- maintaining concentration
  • self talk

Reducing somantic anxiety - reducing physiological components

  • Relaxation -reduce stress
  • Biofeedback
  • Breathing control - breathing deeply
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groups are those social aggregates that involve mutual awareness, a common goal, amd the potential for interaction - Mcgrath

Properties of a Group

  • Group unity
  • Shared purpose
  • A common goal
  • Collective identity
  • structured patterns of communication
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Steiners model

Actual productivity = Potential productivity - losses due to faulty processes

AP: team performance at a particular time

PP: Maximum capability of the group

FP: Factors which can go wrong in the team performance

  • Co-ordination Losses (Ringleman effect) - loss of synchronization of the group
  • Motivation Loss (Social Loafing) Will withdraw effort. things that lead to social loafing ..... feeling others not trying, not valued by coach, low self confidence, negative experiences, task too difficult. Social loafing is dysfunctional as it prevents effective teamwork

Other factors affecting teamwork: Injury, lack of incentive, vague roles, low sum of players, personality, unreliable leadership

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Task and Social cohesion

  • Task cohesion most important in interactive sports and activities (hockey) Where team members rely on one another - Work together
  • Social cohesion important in co-active sports (athletics) individual performance is required - with support provided from group
  • Sub groups emerge is large groups and are the formation of cohesive group.

Four factors affecting Team cohesion - Carron (1993)

  • Situational factors - time environment and size of group
  • Individual factors - chacteristics of the team members (motivation level)
  • Leadership factors -  style of leadership preffered by the group
  • Team factors - collective team goals, good communication, shared success

facors affecting participation in a group or team

Clear roles (invidivual feel valued), team builiding exercises, evaluating each members performance,  team goals, rehersal, reinforcement of success, strong leadership

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Group and team effects on behaviour

  • spink and Carron - increased levels of group cohesion help an individual commit
  • Positive influence on providing support
  • source of motivation encourages a healthy active lifestyle
  • Conform to norms - follow trend of being involved in physical activity
  • Once being a member you will conform to become part of the team to protect the interests of group
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The importance of effective leadership

  • Leadership may be considered as a behavioural process that influences individuals and groups
  • ensures player satisifaction - steering them to success
  • Leadership can have a positive influence on lifestyle behaviour

Qualities of a leader: Motivation, Charisma, good communication, empathy, experience, vision, highly developed decision making skills

Three leader characteristics....

  • autocratic Leader: makes all the decisions, Does not consult the group, motivated to complete task quickly
  • Democratic leader: Shares decision with the group, believes in consultation, interested in developing inter personal relationships
  • Laissez-faire leaders: Stands aside allows group to make own decisions, has severe drawbacks
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Leadership in situations

Highly favourable situation: Leaders position strong, task simple (clear instructions), warm relationships

Highly unfavourable situation: Leaders position weak, Task is complex, hostile group and leader relation

Autocratic leader: Best when group is hostile, groups are large, early/cognitive stage of learning, dangerous situations, time constraints, when leader is male

democratic leader: When groups are friendly, groups are small, require interpersonal communication, no threat of danger, no constraint on time, when leader is female.

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A critical evaluation of Leadership Theories

Trait Approach: Leaders are born with traits to be in charge, stable (intellegence assertiveness and self-confidence) - therefore able to take control of any situation,

(-) not a particulary good predictor of behaviour

Social learning theory: behaviour learnt, when come into contact with environmental forces, imitating success (vicarious learning)

(-) does not take into account trait perspective (-) unlikely alone that observation can make a good leader

Interactionist theory: combination of inherited and learnt skills, situation triggers a trait. Gill (+) gives a more realistic explanation of behaviour

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Multi Dimensional model of leadership (interaction

chelladurai - identified 3 influences that interact to produce effective leader

Judged upon two outcomes: Degree of success accomplished....Extent to which a group experienced satisfaction

  • Situational characteristics: type of activity, numbers involved, time constraints, strength of opposition
  • Leader chacteristics: Skill and experience, personality
  • Group member characteristics: age, gender, motivation, experience
  • These three aspects lead to effective leadership

Also three types of behaviour that impact on leader.......

  • Required behaviour: what should be done by the leader
  • Actual behaviour: What they choose as the best behaviour
  • Preffered behaviour: What the group want the athletes to do

Perform effectively if all these match up, ineffectively if they dont


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Social Facilitation and inhibition

  • Social facilitation occurs when arousal enhances performance
  • Social inhibitation occurs when arousal inhibits performance
  • ( arousal comes from the presence of an audience and co-actors)
  • 2 theories that relate to audience effects .......
  • Drive theory of social facilitation Indicates a relationship between arousal and performance - where presence of others increases arousal. Arousal causes responses to occur - normally dominant responses that have already been learnt .
  • High arousal is good at autonomous stage but not at associative phase as this can lead to mistakes.
  • High arousal would benefit an extrovert but not an introvert.
  • Evaluation Apprehension Model Cottrell that mere presence of others was not arousing enough to produce social facilitation.. arousal was only evident when found that audience was judging them.

Three futher theories: Home advantage effect (large and supportive crowds provide support) Proximity effect (schwartz) location of audience important factor... closer, greater arousal, Distraction - conflict theory ( may become an additional cue)

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Strategies to combat social inhibition

  • Selective attention
  • mental rehersal enhance concentration
  • Engage in positive self talk - block out negative thoughts
  • Practising with an audience
  • ensure skills are over learnt
  • positive reinforcement
  • Confidence
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Emily Summers

helpful C:

but it's just individual aspects, not group dynamics and the mental prep topic

still very good though (: xo


i Haven't finished the notes yet, will hopefully be finished by today or tomorrow :)


Very useful, thank you! :)

Emy Kumi

Emily this is Very helpful and extremely useful

from Emily-rose x


This is Awesome! Gr8 precise notes, just what I needed! Thanks so much for this :') 

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