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Self-Theories of Mental Skill Abilities in Collegiate Athletes

Title: Self-Theories of Mental Skill Abilities in Collegiate Athletes.
Name(s): Shaffer, Cory T., author
Eklund, Robert, professor directing dissertation
Kelley, Colleen, university representative
Tenenbaum, Gershon, committee member
Turner, Jeannine, committee member
Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2014
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: For more than two decades, implicit theory research has focused on the self-beliefs of individuals in a variety of domains, including intelligence and morality (see Dweck, 2000 for a complete overview) and more recently athletic ability (Biddle, Wang, Chatzisarantis, & Spray, 2003; Cury, Da Fonseca, Rufo, & Sarrazin, 2002; Spray, Wang, Biddle, Chatzisarantis, & Warburton, 2006). The original theory, developed by Dweck and Leggett (1988), gained empirical support through this research by highlighting the differences between incremental (attributes are malleable) and entity theorists (attributes are stable). Coinciding with the development and exploration of implicit theory has been the rapidly-developing fields of sport and performance psychology. To date, however, research has not examined the implicit beliefs of mental skills abilities in athletes, and insight into these beliefs may provide valuable insight into the motivational processes of athletes. The purposes of the present study were to examine whether collegiate athletes employ dominant implicit beliefs of mental skills abilities, whether these beliefs can be manipulated, and whether these beliefs influence the response to failure. Participants of this study were varsity and club student-athletes from a large southeastern university. Implicit beliefs were measured at the onset of the study, followed by an incremental or entity beliefs intervention reading, which was either congruent or incongruent with initial implicit beliefs. Implicit beliefs were re-examined immediately following the intervention to determine if the manipulations were successful. Each participant then completed one trial of a brief relaxation mental skills task while biofeedback technology recorded HR and SCL. Upon completion of the task, all participants were told that they performed poorly on the relaxation task, and post-task questionnaires attempted to capture differences in responses to failure between intervention groups. Overall, the vast majority (92.1%) of participants displayed dominant implicit beliefs at the initial assessment. However, contrary to expectations, the sample was overwhelmingly incremental in nature (89.5%), and entity and unclassified participants were excluded from final analyses, yielding a total sample of 68 incremental theorists and two groups for comparison (n = 34 incremental congruent; n = 34 incongruent). A RM ANOVA revealed a significant main effect for Intervention Congruency on post-intervention implicit beliefs scores, providing evidence that the intervention was successful in temporarily manipulating the implicit beliefs of participants. Differences did not emerge between intervention groups on a host of additional variables, however, including goal adoption prior to and following failure feedback, attributions for failure, mental skills task choice, remediation choice, and likelihood for pursuing a mental skills training program in the future. This study provides the first evidence on the implicit beliefs of mental skills abilities in athletes, further extending decades of implicit theory research conducted by Dweck and colleagues into an untapped domain. Though the study was limited by the incremental nature of the final sample, it still provides researchers and practitioners potentially valuable information on the nature of athletes' perceptions of mental skills. It was revealed that collegiate athletes' implicit beliefs can be manipulated, shedding light on the malleable of implicit beliefs themselves. Future research should attempt to address the limitations of this study and continue to explore the motivational processes underlying athletes' self-theories of mental skills.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-8886 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2014.
Date of Defense: April 11, 2014.
Keywords: Entity, Implicit Theory, Incremental, Mental Skills, Self-Beliefs, Sport Psychology
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Robert Eklund, Professor Directing Dissertation; Colleen Kelley, University Representative; Gershon Tenenbaum, Committee Member; Jeannine Turner, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Educational psychology
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Shaffer, C. T. (2014). Self-Theories of Mental Skill Abilities in Collegiate Athletes. Retrieved from