Document Type

Honors Paper


Ann Devlin

Publication Date



Sports and competition are a large part of most cultures across the globe and their popularity only appears to be increasing. Athletic competition is increasingly becoming more about winning, results, and performance and much less about having fun. Professional athletes are no longer the only competitors facing extreme pressure to perform. Collegiate athletes and youth athletes are expected to perform at their best to earn titles for their program or scholarships to universities. Although it is becoming more common for athletes to speak about their personal struggles regarding mental health and performance anxiety, there is little to no change in the physical and emotional demands being placed on these people. The researcher of the current study was interested in understanding why some athletes are better able to manage the pressure to perform than are others. There were 87 participants (66 varsity athletes, 11 club athletes, and 10 who chose not to disclose their status) involved in the study. The present research was a correlational design in which participants were asked to complete several measures to assess their levels of locus of control, perfectionism, competitiveness, and various personality traits. The researcher posited 10 hypotheses and all but one of the hypotheses were not supported by the results. The one significant result was found between the WCMP subscale Motivation for High Performance and Choice of Opponent (p < .05). Nonetheless, significance was found between other psychological factors that provide important information for the researcher’s analysis. Additionally, after the initial correlational analysis was run the researcher decided to conduct several post-hoc analyses. A 2-way ANOVA was conducted on Gender and Athlete Status, as the Quasi-Independent Variables and Choice of Opponent as the Dependent Variable. There was a significant univariate finding for athlete status p = .034, a marginally significant univariate finding for gender, p = .054, and a non-significant interaction effect for athlete status and gender, p = .865. The results demonstrate that athletes preferred an opponent of higher caliber than did non-varsity athletes and male participants had a slightly higher preference than did female participants to compete against a higher caliber opponent. A 2-Way MANOVA was administered on Gender and Athlete Status, as the Quasi-Independent Variables and the three WCMP subscales as the Dependent Variables. For Athlete Status, the Wilks Lambda was significant p < .001. The Wilks Lambda was not significant for Gender and there were no significant multivariate findings. For Athlete Status, univariate findings revealed a significant effect for WCMP subscales Importance of Winning p < .001 and Motivation for High Performance p < .001. No significant univariate findings were observed regarding Gender. A significant interaction for Athlete Status and Gender on WCMP subscale Importance of Winning was identified p = .026. Lastly, simple effects follow up tests show a significant difference between male and female athletes on the WCMP subscale Importance of Winning p < .05 but no significant difference between male and female non-varsity athletes. The results of this study are significant as they can provide coaches with a better understanding of their players’ mindset regarding an important competition.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.