As a sports physiologist we are interested in how individuals behave during sports performance. There are many factors to this.
Psychology is defined as “the science of behaviour”
Sport psychology is the scientific study of people and there behaviours in a sporting context.
There are many differences in individual sports participants that influence there behaviour. These differences have effects on the outcomes
Historically, one of the most popular issues in sport psychology concerns the relationship between personality and sports performance.
Fisher (1994) found over 1000 studies have been conducted on personality and sports performance. From all the studies it is popularly believed that personality contributes to success in sport.
It is also believed that “valued personality attributes may be developed through sports participation”. (Horn 2002)
One of the most often asked, and most difficult to answer questions by a sports psychologist is: what is personality?
Personality is very difficult to define and is scientifically much more complex than most parts of psychology or any study of humans.
Allport (1937) gave a definition as “The dynamic organisation within the individual of those psychological systems that determine his unique adjustments to the environment”
Personality can be defined as: “Personality represents those characteristics of the person that account for consistent patterns of behaviour” (Pervin 1993)
Hollander also defined personality as “the sum total of and individuals characteristics, which make him unique” (Hollander 1971)
Hollander came up with a diagram to show his theory of the structure or personality. This involves three main components, the outer ring, the inner ring and the inner core:
Hollander (1971) Structure of personality
Outer ring – the outer ring is the most superficial aspect. Hollander explains it as role related behaviour. This means that as the perception of the environment changes, we change our behaviour. For example when sitting in a job interview a persons perception of the environment would be different from there perception when dancing in a night club, from this perception there behaviour changes accordingly
Inner ring – the inner ring is the natural responses a person has to the environment or situation they are in. it represents the usual way we respond to a problem or situation that we find ourselves in. from this we develop learned modes of dealing with the environment.
Inner core – the inner core is the deepest components, what some people would call your soul comes into this part of the structure. It involves the basic attitudes, values, interests and motives. The inner core is unlikely to change majorly through out a person’s life although there may be slight changes.
So there are many things that make up your personality, the main four factors that influence how we respond in a given situation are:
* Our genetic make up
* Our past experience
* The nature of the situation in which we find ourselves
* Our free will
Theoretical approaches to personality
Theories of personality recognised behaviour is determined by the factors inside a person and events in the surrounding environment.
The trait theory emphasises the roles of genetics in determining our individuality. The theory says that individual’s personality is made up of certain characteristics or traits. Individuals are said to differ in each trait due to genetic differences. Traits are the stable, enduring characteristic of a person that are considered across a Varity of situations. Traits can be measured according to their frequency intensity and the range of situations they can be applied to. One person can be an extrovert, lively, impulsive etc, while another is introvert, very shy, quite etc. These can affect and be seen in the sport they play.
As mentioned previously personalities can be placed into two categories, which are introvert and extrovert. Introverts are usually quiet and don’t need a lot to be going on to keep occupied. Introverts tend to be calmer more thoughtful and careful. They tend to prefer sports, which are solitary, less active and less competitive. Research show that introverts tend to work hard in training, get nervous before big events, perform intricate skills well and have a lower tolerance of pain. This means that they are less likely to take part in contact sports and more likely to take parts in sports such as archery, golf tennis and swimming.
Extroverts on the other hand, need a lot of things to be going on to keep amused and are usually found to be in the centre of attention and loud. They are more lively optimistic and sociable. They tend to prefer team sports, sports with aggression and action packed competitive sports. Extroverts get impatient with intricate skills and get bored easily in training.
A person cannot be labelled as an introvert or extrovert until they have been observed closely, in different situations. Someone who appears talkative with friends may appear quite and shy around strangers. This also means the links between personality and sports involving introverts and extroverts are generalisations. There are always exceptions for example some one who is a introvert may play a team sport. 100meter runners are usually extroverts who are positive and enjoy important events at high arousal but still do an individual sport.