PY4 Psychology: Controversies, Topics and Applications (1334)
Section C: APPLICATIONS - SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY
SPORT PSYCHOLOGY...
1. Improving motivation in sport (e.g. explanations of motivation and
ways of improving motivation).
WHY DO PEOPLE TAKE UP...
yourself goals of personal achievement (e.g. 90% of first tennis serves in) rather than simply the
goal of victory. The mo...
Generally, we come to sport motivated more by intrinsic than extrinsic factors. However,
extrinsic motivators are sometime...
4. Role models – point out the success of role models, particularly those of a similar age.
5. Use relaxation techniques t...
A coach should avoid being openly critical of the player’s performance. The coach should stress
the positives in the perfo...
2. Internal factors affecting sporting performance (e.g. arousal, anxiety,
attribution theory).
AROUSAL
When we are bored,...
too much thought. In this way, he can avoid his arousal turning into anxiety and worry about his
performance. “When in tro...
However, like drive theory, the inverted U hypothesis (IUH) fails to take into account the
nature/type/kind of arousal, or...
The relationship between anxiety and performance
In recent years the emphasis in sport psychology has shifted away from th...
However, some psychologists propose the catastrophe model is too complex to be testable, while
others dispute the idea tha...
3. External factors affecting sporting performance (e.g. team membership,
audience effects).
AUDIENCE EFFECTS
Under some c...
Explanations for co-action and audience effects
Drive theory
Zajonc (1965) proposed that the reason why the presence of ot...
TEAM MEMBERSHIP
Moorhead and Griffin (1998) define a team as ‘a small number of people with complementary
skills who are c...
How cohesiveness affects performance
There are numerous studies showing that there is a relationship between team cohesive...
4. Effects of exercise on well-being (e.g. effects on physical and mental
health).
16
5. Theories of aggression in sport (e.g. frustration-aggression hypothesis,
ethological theory, social-learning theory).
T...
Social learning theory
In a radical alternative to instinct theory, Albert Bandura (1973) proposed that all human
aggressi...
simply learning how and when to expression aggression that is already an instinct. And it’s worth
noting that while martia...
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  1. 1. PY4 Psychology: Controversies, Topics and Applications (1334) Section C: APPLICATIONS - SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY SPORT PSYCHOLOGY 1. Improving motivation in sport (e.g. explanations of motivation and ways of improving motivation). 2. Internal factors affecting sporting performance (e.g. arousal, anxiety, attribution theory). 3. External factors affecting sporting performance (e.g. team membership, audience effects). 4. Effects of exercise on well-being (e.g. effects on physical and mental health). 5. Theories of aggression in sport (e.g. frustration-aggression hypothesis, ethological theory, social-learning theory). The articles in this section, Section C, are based upon the articles in Sport Psychology by Matt Jarvis Routledge Modular Psychology Series ISBN 0-415-20642-1 1
  2. 2. 1. Improving motivation in sport (e.g. explanations of motivation and ways of improving motivation). WHY DO PEOPLE TAKE UP SPORT? Although there has been a great deal of research into how motivation can be improved in those already participating in sport, there are fewer studies that have examined what motivates people to choose to take up sports. Ashford et al. (1993) interviewed 336 adults at a community sports centre in Leicester about why they participated in sport and what they enjoyed about it. Four main motivators emerged: physical well-being (makes me more healthy); psychological well-being (feel better about myself); improvement of performance (the satisfaction of getting better at it); and assertive achievement (accomplishing personal challenges and gaining status). Age and gender significantly affected motivation. Older people were more motivated by psychological well-being than younger people. Men were more motivated by assertive achievement than women. These motives are all intrinsic (internal) rather than extrinsic (external), which supports the idea that most people come to sport for reasons of intrinsic motivation rather than external rewards. After all, most people who take up tennis do not expect to become a Roger Federer. Although the four main motivators of the Ashford et al. (1993) study can be fitted neatly into Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs, the results do not support Maslow’s idea that needs must be satisfied in a certain, pre-determined order. Of course children’s motives for taking part in sport may be different to those of adults. Daley and O’Gara (1998) investigated the motives of 145 children taking part in non-compulsory sport in a British secondary school, using a questionnaire called the Participation Motivation Inventory (PMI). As in Ashford et al. (1993), the motives for sports participation differed according to gender and age. Between 11 and 15 years of age, intrinsic factors became more important and extrinsic factors less important. In other words, the older the children became the more they were motivated by their own enthusiasm for the sport, and not be external factors such as trophies and medals. The research also showed that girls were more motivated by the chance to be part of a team than boys. The McClelland-Atkinson theory of need achievement All human beings have the drive to achieve in some way or other. Some psychologists see the drive to achieve as innate; others see it as acquired by experience, i.e. learned. Some believe that the most important factor is to achieve success; others emphasise the motive to avoid failure. The link between the wish to achieve and sporting success is an obvious one. A strong wish to succeed in your chosen sport will be a huge asset in determining how hard you train and how hard you try in competition. You are in fact more likely to improve your performance by setting 2
  3. 3. yourself goals of personal achievement (e.g. 90% of first tennis serves in) rather than simply the goal of victory. The most influential theory of achievement-motivation comes from McLelland et al. (1953). The aim of McLelland and Atkinson’s theory was to explain why some individuals are more motivated to achieve than others. The athlete’s intrinsic motivation is seen as the motive to achieve. (We all wish to be successful.) On the other hand is the motive to avoid failure. (We are all more or less afraid of failure.) When faced with a task such as sport, we face an approach- avoidance conflict. We are motivated to approach and take part by our desire to succeed, but we are also motivated to avoid taking part by our desire to avoid failure. (This is like wanting to ask someone out on a date, but being unsure whether our invitation will be accepted or rejected – approach-avoidance conflict.) Our individual decision to participate is determined by the balance between these two factors, approach and avoidance. To McClelland and Atkinson, achievement-motivation is a personality trait, something in our personality such as our level of cheerfulness. For some of us, the desire to succeed far outweighs the fear of failure, and we are said to be high in achievement-motivation. For others, the fear of failure is the more important factor, and they would be said to be low in achievement-motivation. This personality trait (achievement-motivation) is not the only factor that affects motivation. The situation is also important. Even if an athlete is low in achievement-motivation (fearful of failure), if the chances of success are high, and the rewards for success are great, they are likely to be motivated. Evaluation of McClelland and Atkinson Although there is a lot of research that supports the theory that high achievers seek out difficult tasks (where the rewards are greater) and low achievers prefer easier tasks (where the chance of failure is less), this personality trait does not reliably predict sporting performance. This does not mean the theory is worthless. The value of measuring achievement-motivation is not intended to predict performance, but it is used to predict long-term patterns of motivation. If I am a sports coach, it will be of great help to know if the individual I am coaching has high levels or motivation that will last the long run. INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION One of the fundamental questions psychologists address about human nature is ‘Why we do things?” Psychologists seek to uncover the reasons underlying wanting to, or needing to, or ‘just doing things’. In other words, what motivates us to do anything? For example, why did you choose to study psychology? In psychology, we distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation results from external rewards such as trophies, prizes, praise, and status. Intrinsic motives come from within the person, and in sport they include excitement, fun, love of action and the chance to demonstrate and improve skills – in short, all the reasons we enjoy sport. Psychologists can work with both extrinsic and intrinsic motives to improve the performance of the individual. 3
  4. 4. Generally, we come to sport motivated more by intrinsic than extrinsic factors. However, extrinsic motivators are sometimes used to boost intrinsic motivation. The additive principle states that an athlete low in intrinsic motivation can have their motivation boosted by some extrinsic motivation. For example, we might say to a flagging athlete that he will be rewarded with £50 if he beats his best time in the next race. However, this common-sense approach is not well supported by research. There are numerous case studies of athletes whose performance has sharply declined as soon as they have earned lucrative rewards (Cox, 1998). Intensive, stressful competition may also reduce intrinsic motivation – the enjoyment of the sport. Fortier et al. (1995) compared the intrinsic motivation levels of Canadian athletes who participated for simple recreation with those athletes involved in college competitions. The college athletes, who were highly focused on the goal of winning, showed less intrinsic motivation than those participating for pleasure. To put it simply, our performance may begin to decline when the pleasure, fun, and enthusiasm go out of the sport. One example of how extrinsic motivators can be used to boost intrinsic motivation is the grading system in martial arts. Level of expertise is symbolised by a coloured belt or sash. Contrary to popular belief, such belts are not an ancient tradition, but a relatively recent innovation in martial arts such as judo and karate. They are designed to provide regular tangible rewards for students’ achievements with the aim of motivating students to continue making progress in the sport. WAYS OF IMPROVING MOTIVATION IN SPORT 1: ENSURING MOTIVATION Coaches should use their knowledge of achievement motivation to make sure players approach competition with confidence. In the early stages of learning, young players compare their efforts with others doing the same task. In the social comparison stage of development, the player should not be made to feel inferior. The following strategies can be adopted: 1. Allow success - give players, especially beginners, tasks at which the can succeed. For example, use training drills that players can with some effort accomplish. 2. Motivate the players – provide motivation, both externally, by giving praise and rewards (positive reinforcement), and internally by setting achievable goals. Make sure the player feels responsible for achieving them (success should be attributed internally). 3. Redefine failure - Say, for example, that though the game was lost, the players had actually improved their techniques. Players may not have won the game but they did achieve important goals within the game. 4
  5. 5. 4. Role models – point out the success of role models, particularly those of a similar age. 5. Use relaxation techniques to lower anxiety and to raise spirits. For example, players might enjoy relaxing together after the match in a social setting, or discussing what can be learned from the match. 6. Explain early failure is common, and not a disaster but a means to improvement. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. 7. Set goals that the player has to work hard to achieve. This gives the player a sense of satisfaction when the goals are attained. Set achievable goals, making them more challenging as players improve. Remind players their success in achieving these goals is due to their own efforts and ability. If the goals are too difficult, reset them to an appropriate level. 8. Make training activities enjoyable, and introduce variety to maintain effort and interest. 9. Apply attributional retraining 10. Remember the relationship between the coach and players is the most important factor in encouraging players to reach their potential. Players will work hardest for a coach they respect and trust and like. 2: MOTIVATING PLAYERS In motivating players, it is important to understand two key concepts: learned helplessness and mastery orientation. Learned helplessness is a belief that failure is inevitable. And it is caused by blaming internal and stable reasons for losing. The player becomes low on confidence, cannot believe in success, expects failure, and blames lack of ability for losing. Criticism of a player’s ability is not always appropriate. A player who feels that failure or poor performance is consistently blamed on his lack of ability may develop learned helplessness. This can be specific helplessness – “the coach thinks I’m not good in midfield” or global helplessness – “the coach thinks I’m no good at football at all”. If the player absorbs these attitudes, he will expect to fail and he will fail. The opposite of learned helplessness is mastery orientation. The player believes he can master the sport, that success is likely, and that failure can be overcome. The coach should encourage the belief that losses/failure is only a temporary setback and that it is unlikely to be repeated in the future. 5
  6. 6. A coach should avoid being openly critical of the player’s performance. The coach should stress the positives in the performance and then indicate where the performance can be improved. If the player begins to think that lack of success is related to inability, he may lose motivation and make less effort in future. Apply attributional retraining. Learned helplessness can be combated by moving the players away from internal and stable reasons for failure, and get them to focus on external and changeable factors. For example, the coach can suggest to the players, in a positive manner, that they are good enough and that a change in tactics will improve their performance. In other words, the coach must encourage the players to attribute reasons for lack of success to external factors which they can control and change. For example, “You’ve certainly got the ability to succeed, but maybe we can work on your service (tennis) action.” 6
  7. 7. 2. Internal factors affecting sporting performance (e.g. arousal, anxiety, attribution theory). AROUSAL When we are bored, relaxed or asleep, we are in a state of low arousal. When excited, angry or anxious, we are in a state of high arousal. Therefore, we can think of arousal as a general physiological and psychological state of activity running all the way from deep sleep to intense excitement. We can see that being in a state of arousal, high or low, is not in itself a pleasant or unpleasant experience, but it will affect our behaviour, including sporting behaviour. The common phrase “up for it” is often used to refer to a sportsperson who is positively looking forward to a sporting activity. Being “up for it” refers to the competitor’s state of arousal. The relationship between arousal and performance Drive theory Drive theory was proposed by Hull (1943). According to drive theory, three factors influence sporting performance. These are: the complexity of the task, the state of arousal, and the habits the participant has learned. For example, the high jump is a more complex task than the 1500 metres because the athlete must control a greater number of variables. Arousal refers to the physiological and mental state of the athlete. Habits refer to how ingrained the pattern of doing the high jump skilfully is. Drive theory suggests that the greater the state of arousal, the more likely we are to adopt the appropriate habits (patterns of behaviour) for the sporting activity. The higher our arousal, the better our performance will be, provided the task is a simple one and we apply the appropriate habits. However, arousal can reduce/inhibit performance if the task is complex and the participant does not apply the appropriate habits. Because arousal level is greater in competition than in practice and increases according to the importance of the competition, drive theory predicts that the best performances take place in high-importance competitions. Drive theory also predicts that expert performers are likely to do better than novice performers because, although they may be equally aroused, expert performers are likely to have the correct habits ingrained by experience. Novices, on the other hand, are more likely to make mistakes under pressure. Therefore, it follows that novices should have lots and lots of practice to acquire the skills/habits they need under conditions of low arousal (i.e. with few spectators and minimal competition). Evaluation of drive theory Drive theory has proved extremely useful in explaining why experts do better in competition and novices are more likely to crack under pressure. Under pressure, an expert player is likely to fall back to basics, i.e. making sure he employs the correct habits time after time without giving them 7
  8. 8. too much thought. In this way, he can avoid his arousal turning into anxiety and worry about his performance. “When in trouble, just go on doing the ‘right’ things.” Drive theory has also given us insights into how to optimise players’ arousal during training. However, drive theory fails to explain instances where even expert players become too aroused and make errors. It also fails to take into account the type/kind of arousal experienced, or the psychological factors, such as cognitive anxiety, that may accompany arousal. The inverted U hypothesis By the 1970s psychologists were dissatisfied with drive theory and had turned to the inverted U approach to explain the relationship between arousal and performance. The inverted U hypothesis, which originated from Yerkes and Dodson (1908), suggested that for every task there is an optimum level of arousal. Performance peaks at this level and drops off above and below it. In addition, the optimum level of arousal for a task depends on the complexity of the skill required to carry out the task. For a complex task involving fine motor skills (such as potting a ball in snooker), low levels of arousal are preferable. For gross tasks such as weightlifting, the optimum level of arousal is much higher. Evaluation of the inverted U hypothesis Like drive theory, the inverted U hypothesis has important applications in sport psychology. By looking at how fine and complex the motor skills are required for a particular sport, we can seek to optimise the arousal levels of competitors taking part in that sport. For example, we may recommend relaxation procedures to lower the arousal levels of darts and smoker players, while recommending exercises to arouse or ‘psych up’ weightlifters and rugby players – think of how the New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ (rugby players) ‘psych’ themselves up by performing the Haka before every international rugby match. Unlike drive theory, the inverted U hypothesis can easily explain why expert performers sometimes make errors under pressure. They make errors because they are not at the optimum level of arousal. 8 Rank the following sporting skills according to how high you think the optimum level of arousal is for each: (a) a sliding football tackle, (b) bowling a slow ball in cricket, (c) a tennis serve, (d) throwing a dart.
  9. 9. However, like drive theory, the inverted U hypothesis (IUH) fails to take into account the nature/type/kind of arousal, or the effects of psychological factors such as cognitive anxiety on performance. ANXIETY We have seen that arousal, being aroused, is not in itself necessarily a pleasant or unpleasant experience. Anxiety, on the other hand, is by definition an unpleasant sensation. We can think of anxiety as an unpleasant state of arousal. Martens et al. (1990) distinguished between two aspects of anxiety: somatic (bodily) anxiety, and cognitive anxiety. Somatic anxiety refers to the physiological changes associated with high arousal, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, ‘butterflies’ in the stomach, faster breathing and flushed face. Golfers and snooker players sometimes affected by tremors in the hands that are brought on by high levels of anxious arousal. We call the experience of physiological changes brought on by anxiety somatic anxiety (from the Greek word soma, meaning ‘body’). No doubt some A Level psychology students will experience somatic anxiety as the examinations or the examination results come closer; so will some of their teachers! At the same time as we experience somatic anxiety, we also experience cognitive anxiety. Cognitive anxiety refers to the anxious thoughts at accompany somatic anxiety. Anxious thinking involves worries, self-doubts and images of losing and humiliation. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. A number of studies have examined how cognitive and somatic anxiety change before a sporting event. Swain and Jones (1993) followed 49 track and field athletes measuring both the frequency and intensity of their cognitive and somatic anxiety on four occasions (two days, one day, two hours, and thirty minutes) prior to an important competition. They found that both cognitive and somatic anxiety increased before the event, the most dramatic increase being in the frequency of anxious thinking immediately before a competition. Once competition begins, it is commonly believed that somatic anxiety declines sharply (why?), while cognitive anxiety fluctuates – increases and reduces – depending on how the event is going. For this reason many researchers have proposed that errors during the performance are due to cognitive anxiety and not somatic anxiety. It seems clear that as cognitive anxiety increases performance declines. For example, in tennis, if we think we are losing we may begin to try so hard that mistakes creep into our performance, and these mistakes in turn increase our cognitive anxiety. This is why it can be very difficult to catch up on a good player once he/she gets in front. As his/her confidence increases, he/she makes fewer and fewer mistakes. 9 Think about how you feel before an important competition, or examination. What are some of the anxious thoughts that occur to you? At what point do you have most anxious thoughts?
  10. 10. The relationship between anxiety and performance In recent years the emphasis in sport psychology has shifted away from the study of simple arousal in favour of looking at the effects of anxiety. There are three particularly influential theories seeking to explain the relationship between anxiety and sporting performance. These are: the catastrophe model, zones of optimal functioning, and reversal theory. We shall examine two of these closely. The catastrophe model You will remember that the inverted U hypothesis suggests that for every task there is an optimum level of arousal. Performance peaks at this level and drops off above and below it. In other words, an athlete will be at his best while he is performing at his optimum level of arousal, and as he moves above or below his optimum level, his performance will decline correspondently. Fazey and Hardy (1988) rejected the assumption that a small change in arousal will bring about only a small change in performance. Instead they pointed out that when the athlete is experiencing high cognitive anxiety (i.e. very worried about what is happening in the sports event), then a small increase in arousal beyond the optimum level can bring a massive fall-off in performance. They described this fall-off as catastrophic, hence the name ‘the catastrophe model’. high anxiety + increase in arousal beyond optimum = catastrophe Fazey and Hardy (1988) agreed that under conditions of low anxiety (when the athlete is not particularly worried), the IUH holds true. However, when cognitive anxiety is high then there comes a point just above the optimum level of arousal where performance plunges sharply. This is a catastrophe. Evaluation of the catastrophe model The catastrophe model has proved difficult to test directly, but studies do support the idea that athletes’ best and worst performances occur under conditions of high anxiety, and that under high anxiety conditions performance does drop off sharply following optimum arousal level. The major practical application of the catastrophe model is in showing that cognitive anxiety is not necessarily an enemy of performance, but under certain circumstances anxiety can be beneficial. This fits in with the results of interviews carried out by Jones et al. (1993) when many athletes reported they performed best when worried. 10
  11. 11. However, some psychologists propose the catastrophe model is too complex to be testable, while others dispute the idea that cognitive anxiety can improve performance at all. Zones of optimal functioning - ZOF Hanin (1986) criticised other theories of the relationship between anxiety and performance on the basis that they did not emphasise individual differences in our responses to anxiety. In other words, he suggested that everybody does not respond in the same way to anxiety, that there are individual differences in their responses. Hanin (1986) suggested that each athlete has their own preferred level of anxiety, and that their performance would suffer if their anxiety went below or above their preferred level. Each athlete’s preferred anxiety level is called his/her zone of optimal functioning. The ZOF approach has clear applications for athletes. By knowing your own ideal level of anxiety for competition, you can monitor your current level and decide whether you need to relax or get psyched up (aroused). Some athletes learn to monitor their heartbeat and from this tell whether they are below or above their ZOF. It is also useful for coaches and teachers to know each individual’s ZOF. You might, for instance, choose not to use psyching up procedures prior to a competition if you are working with athletes who have a low ZOF and therefore prefer a lower level of anxiety. It is also useful to know that, in general, athletes competing in team sports have a lower ZOF than competitors in individual events. This is probably explained by the fact that teams share the responsibility for what happens in the event, while an individual faces the loneliness of the long distance runner. Evaluation of the ZOF theory There is some support for the idea that athletes do best when at the level of anxiety they prefer. Inlay et al. (1993) investigated anxiety levels in athletes across seven competitions and found that, of athletes assessed as being in their ZOF, 63% per cent performed well and 31 per cent performed badly. This provides moderate support for the ZOF theory. However, Inlay et al. (1993) has been criticised because pre-competition anxiety was assessed after the event rather than before. And Hanin (1986) is open to criticism because he did not differentiate between cognitive and somatic anxiety. Despite these problems, however, Hanin’s ZOF approach has many practical applications and is popular with athletes, coaches and sport psychologists. 11
  12. 12. 3. External factors affecting sporting performance (e.g. team membership, audience effects). AUDIENCE EFFECTS Under some circumstances the presence of other people, such as an audience, enhances/improves our performance. However, under other circumstances our effort and our ability to make decisions can be adversely affected by other, leading to poor performance. The term social facilitation describes the ways in which our performance can be affected by the presence of others. There are numerous pieces of research based upon the effects of an audience on human performers. The first piece of research was designed by Triplett (1898). Triplett noticed that, when looking at cycling records, paced times were faster than unpaced times, and competitive times were fastest of all. Triplett set up a controlled experiment to determine why this happened. To do this he observed children winding a fishing reel alone of in pair. The results showed that children wound the reel faster in pairs. He put this down to ‘dynamogy’, which suggests that having an audience increases arousal and ultimately increases the speed in which an act takes place. ‘Dynamogy’ or co-action effects occur when other people are carrying out the same task alongside you, as takes place in a race, or when training with friends or team-mates. Audience effects occur when we are being watched. A study of audience effects was carried out by Michaels et al. (1982). Researchers observed students playing pool at a student union. The researchers selected a number of above-average players and a number of below-average players. First, those selected were watched and the percentage of successful shots was recorded. Four researchers then walked up to the tables of the selected players and watched the rest of their game. It was found that having an audience had the opposite effect on the below-average players and the above-average players. The players identified as below-average ability played worse in the presence of an audience while those identified as above-average played better when watched. Interestingly, it appears that audience effects increase as the size of the audience increases. Neville and Cann (1998) examined the size of crowds in home-win games in the English and Scottish football leagues from 1985-1996. It was found that home advantage was greatest when crowds were large, and least when crowds were small. 12
  13. 13. Explanations for co-action and audience effects Drive theory Zajonc (1965) proposed that the reason why the presence of others affects performance is because it directly raises arousal levels, i.e. competitors are more ‘up for it’ when they have an audience. Drive theory proposes that heightened arousal produces a better performance when the task is simple and/or the performer is an expert. It follows therefore that the presence of others will lead to a better performance when the competitors are expert but a worse performance for less-expert performers. The Michaels et al. (1982) study of pool players provides strong support for drive theory. The better players played better when they had an audience; conversely the poorer players played even more poorly. Aronsen et al. (1994) reviewed studies and concluded that there was overwhelming evidence for drive theory in that performance consistently improved in experts and declined in novices when faced with an audience. Evaluation-apprehension theory Cottrell (1968) offered an alternative to Zajonc’s drive theory to explain why the presence of others might lead to increased arousal. In evaluation-apprehension theory, the presence of others causes an increase in our arousal because we feel we are about to be evaluated. If we are competent in the task to be observed, then we are likely to feel confident, and the effect of the observer on performance will be confident. Few people enjoy being observed and evaluated unless they feel they are going to perform well. If we are a novice, however, then the anxiety that results from the belief that we are about to be evaluated/judged and found wanting increases our arousal to unhealthy levels and so spoils our performance. (The significance of this for A Level students taking examinations is obvious!) Evaluation of evaluation-apprehension theory Cottrell (1968) discovered the more expert the observer of athletes, the greater the decline in the performance of non-expert performers. This supports the idea that it is fear of being judged that leads to increased arousal and poor performance. Certainly you can imagine that, if you found yourselves watched by a panel of England team-selectors for the 2012 Olympics, your arousal level would be higher than if observed by a group of friends! However, while evaluation-apprehension theory is certainly one cause of arousal in the presence of others, it is probably not the only factor. 13
  14. 14. TEAM MEMBERSHIP Moorhead and Griffin (1998) define a team as ‘a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, common performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” In addition, when we refer to a team in sport psychology we are referring to a group of people who play together and have a powerful influence on each other. Team cohesion The word cohesion literally means ‘sticking together’. To be successful, a team must find cohesion and perform cohesively, i.e. they must play for each other as well as for themselves as individuals. A highly cohesive team is likely to be more united and committed to success than a team low in cohesion. It is often said that a team is more than just the sum of its individual players. This is because the cohesiveness of a team can be just as important as the talent of individual team members. Sometimes teams made of brilliant individual players fail to achieve success because they fail to ‘gel’ together as a team. This is an example of lack of cohesion. What determines team cohesion? Carron (1993) identifies four factors that affect the cohesiveness of a team. Situational factors include the physical environment in which the team meets and the size of the group. Individual factors to the characteristics of the athletes that make up the team. For example, individuals who are very satisfied at having ‘made’ the team will add to its cohesiveness; their satisfaction rubs off on other members. Leadership is an important factor in promoting team cohesion; leaders include team coaches, captains and managers. Team factors include past shared successes, communication between members, and having collective goals. 14 Your guide to successful team cohesion. (1) Situational factors – make sure your team can meet and play in the best environment possible. (2) Individual factors – make sure your ‘stars’ put the success of the team first. (3) Make sure that leaders do their jobs. That includes captain, coach, manager. (4) Stress the team factors that will help promote ‘togetherness’ – past shared successes, good communication between team members, aiming for the same goals.
  15. 15. How cohesiveness affects performance There are numerous studies showing that there is a relationship between team cohesiveness and success, i.e. more successful teams tend to have greater cohesion. It is not hard to understand that cohesion promotes success, and success in turn promotes greater team cohesion. Slater and Sewell (1994) measured team cohesion in 60 university hockey players representing three male and three female teams. They were measured early, midday, and at the end of the season. The researchers were able to see how early cohesion related to later success, and how early success related to later cohesion. Slater and Sewell (1994) concluded that, while early success was related to later cohesion, the stronger relationship was between early cohesion and later success. In other words, cohesion and success are mutually dependent. This confirms the suggestion that cohesion promotes success, and success in turn promotes greater team cohesion. It follows that one of the main priorities of a coach is to develop a high degree of cohesion in the team as early as possible. Developing team cohesion Turning a group of individuals into an effective team is an important part of a coach’s task, particularly in individualist cultures such as Britain and the USA where we are not taught to put the good of the team before the good of the individual. Carron et al. (1997) offer the following principles for team-building:  acquaint each player with the responsibilities of other team members  as coach, learn something personal about each team member and use it to gain co- operation  develop pride in the sub-teams within larger teams, e.g. the defence as a cohesive unit  involve players in decision-making to make them feel the team belongs to them, and they belong to the team  set the team goals, e.g. a clean sheet for a month, and celebrate together when goals are attained  teach each team member their responsibilities and convince them of their individual importance within the team set-up  allow team members to have disagreements without becoming personal  prevent the formation of cliques within the team  use routines in practice designed to teach team members how dependent they are on each other  highlight the positive aspects of play, even when the team is on a losing streak 15
  16. 16. 4. Effects of exercise on well-being (e.g. effects on physical and mental health). 16
  17. 17. 5. Theories of aggression in sport (e.g. frustration-aggression hypothesis, ethological theory, social-learning theory). Theories of aggression There are a number of psychological theories that aim to explain the origins and triggers of human aggression. Within sport psychology, three broad approaches have been particularly influential. These are instinct theories, social learning theory, and the frustration-aggression hypothesis. Ethological theory/the instinct approach The ethological approach sees aggression as instinctive behaviour. By instinct, we mean an innate or inborn tendency to behave in a certain way. In other words, aggressive behaviour is part of our genetic behaviour. From the ethological point of view, Konrad Lorenz (1966) proposed that human beings have evolved a ‘fighting instinct’. Evolution takes place through natural selection, therefore we must have developed aggressive behaviour as part of our survival tactics. This means that aggression is a survival trait, i.e. a characteristic that increases our chances of survival. Like Sigmund Freud (1919), Lorenz saw human aggression as inevitable but manageable. Lorenz saw sport as serving the social function of channelling human aggressive instincts constructively. Richards (1994), who was very influenced by Freud, suggested that football is particularly importing in sublimating our aggressive instincts (i.e. channelling them constructively). For this reason, Richards describes football as ‘a civilising influence.’ Evaluation of the instinct approach The issue of whether aggression is instinctive or whether we have to learn it remains a controversy in psychology. There is a lack of direct evidence for or against an aggressive instinct and we have to look for indirect support. If aggression were universal that would be strong evidence for an instinctive basis. Lore and Schultz (1993) have pointed out that all vertebrates display aggression, thus it must be a survival trait, as suggested by Lorenz. On the other hand, cross-cultural studies have found wide variations in human aggression (Baron and Richardson – 1992). There appear to be human cultures, such as the Arapesh of New Guinea, where there is very little aggression by European and American standards. This suggests that there must be external influences as well as an instinctive component to aggression. 17
  18. 18. Social learning theory In a radical alternative to instinct theory, Albert Bandura (1973) proposed that all human aggression, like other social behaviour, is learned by imitation and reinforcement. Bandura (1965) famously demonstrated, in his ‘Bobo doll’ experiments that children copy adults behaving aggressively. Children observed an adult beating up a large inflatable doll. The watching children then imitated the behaviour and also behaved aggressively, both verbally and physically, towards the doll in ways very similar to the adult-model. When the children witnessed the adult being rewarded for the aggressive behaviour towards the doll, their own levels of aggression increased. Clearly, there are instances where children can witness aggression in sport and there are a number of ways in which aggression can be reinforced. An act of aggression might be rewarded directly by scoring or preventing a goal being scored. Watchers might cheer; coach, parents and team-mates may praise the aggressive child. Children may also witness highly assertive acts (tackling an opponent hard) and incorrectly imitate them in an aggressive form (fouling an opponent). You can imagine that, to a child with little technical knowledge of football, it is difficult to distinguish between an assertive shoulder- charge and an aggressive push. Baron and Byrne (1994) suggest there are four aspects of aggression that can be explained by learning: how to be aggressive, who is an appropriate target for aggression, what actions require and aggressive response, and in which situations aggression is appropriate. Thus by observational learning, we might learn how to commit a foul, who we can foul, what they have to do to warrant a foul, and under what circumstances a foul is the best response. Because social learning theorists propose that there is nothing inevitable about aggression, but that it results from learning, it follows that we should be able to shape young sports persons’ aggression by the proper application of reinforcement (rewards) and punishment. The alert teacher or coach can make sure that while assertive behaviour is properly rewarded, aggression is not. Evaluation of social learning theory There is no doubt that children imitate adult behaviour, and that rewards will increase the probability of aggressive behaviour being learned and repeated. However, what is much more controversial is the claim that social learning is a complete explanation of human aggression. One question often asked is: “If every generation copies aggression from the previous generation, how did it happen in the first place?” Animal studies have shown that animals reared alone, without any opportunity to learn aggression from others, still display aggression. This shows that in some species at least, aggression does not require social learning. Baron and Byrne’s four aspects of learned aggression are useful in explaining the importance of learning in aggression, but we easily see these as 18
  19. 19. simply learning how and when to expression aggression that is already an instinct. And it’s worth noting that while martial arts training provides model of aggressive behaviour, the training reduces rather than increases aggressive behaviour. Clearly, it is reductionist to explain all human aggression as socially learned. The frustration-aggression hypothesis The frustration-aggression hypothesis was suggested by Dollar et al. (1939) who suggested that the most important factor in triggering aggressive behaviour is the situation we find ourselves in Dollard accepted that aggression is instinctive, but he proposed that we only display aggressive behaviour when we find ourselves in a frustrating situation. In other words, if we find that achieving our goals are frustrated, we instinctively become aggressive. Think of yourself sitting in a traffic jam when you are in a hurry to get to your destination! In Dollard’s original version of the frustration-aggression hypothesis, frustration was seen as always leading to aggression, and all aggression was seen as due to frustration. Berkowitz (1993) introduced another element into the frustration-aggression hypothesis. He suggests that frustration leads to anger rather than directly to aggression. And we become angrier if the frustration is unexpected or if it is seen as unfair. According to Berkowitz (1993), anger may sometimes lead to aggression, but because we can apply our higher cognitive skills to the situation, we do not necessarily respond to anger with aggression. We may do so, however, if our anger is great enough or if, for some reason, we cannot think logically at that moment. Think of a footballer who is being persistently fouled. His frustration leads to anger, and he may instinctively want to lash out at the fouler, but his cognitive skills allow him to work out that if he retaliates, he will be sent off and make the situation worse for his team. He remains frustrated but he controls his anger. Evaluation of the frustration-aggression hypothesis Frustration is just one of several causes of aggression. Like instinct theory and social learning, it is an incomplete explanation of human aggression. However, the frustration-aggression hypothesis is useful to sport psychologists because sport can involve so much frustration that, even if frustration is a minor cause of aggression in many social situations, it is probably one of the major contributors to sporting aggression. Bakker et al. (1990) found that aggression increases when a team is losing, especially when the game is of great importance, presumably in response to the frustration of the situation. Conclusion Although none of these theories can on its own explain all forms of aggression, they can be combined to give us insight into some of the major factors affecting human aggression in sport situations. 19

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