Psychological Distress Across Sport Participation Groups: The Mediating Effects of Secondary Irrational Beliefs on the Relationship Between Primary Irrational Beliefs and Symptoms of Anxiety, Anger, and Depression

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $58.00

1 year subscription

USD  $77.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $110.00

2 year subscription

USD  $144.00

It is not fully understood the extent to which cognitive mediators are involved in the transaction between the athletic environment and athlete mental health. Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) holds that primary irrational beliefs lead to psychological distress through secondary irrational beliefs. Therefore this study examined the mediational effects of primary and secondary irrational beliefs on psychological distress across three sport participation groups; non-sport participants, recreational sport participants, and elite athletes. This study also examined the differences in irrational beliefs and psychological distress between individual and team sport participants, between females and males, and across the three sport participation groups. Data revealed that secondary irrational beliefs mediated the relationships between primary irrational beliefs and psychological distress. Between-groups analyses revealed that elite athletes demonstrated smallest depreciation irrational beliefs, and elite female athletes reported greater depression symptoms than elite male athletes. The implications of the findings for research and applied work are discussed.

Turner, Carrington, and Miller are with the Life Sciences and Education, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom.

Address author correspondence to Martin J. Turner at m.turner@staffs.ac.uk.
  • Armstrong, S., & Oomen-Early, J. (2009). Social connectedness, self-esteem, and depression symptomatology among collegiate athletes versus nonathletes. Journal of American College Health, 57, 521–526. PubMed ID: 19254893 doi:10.3200/JACH.57.5.521-526

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bangasser, D.A., Curtis, A., Reyes, B.A., Bethea, T.T., Parastatidis, I., Ischiropoulos, H., … Valentino, R.J. (2010). Sex differences in corticotropin-releasing factor receptor signaling and trafficking: Potential role in female vulnerability to stress-related psychopathology. Molecular Psychiatry, 15, 896–904. doi:10.1038/mp.2010.66

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bernard M.E. (1998). Validation of the general attitude and belief scale. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 16(3), 183–196. doi:10.1023/A:1024911014579

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cresswell, S.L., & Eklund, R.C. (2007). Athlete burnout: A longitudinal qualitative investigation. The Sport Psychologist, 21, 1–20. doi:10.1123/tsp.21.1.1

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cunningham, R., & Turner, M.J. (2016). Using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) athletes to reduce irrational beliefs and increase unconditional self-acceptance. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 34(4), 289–309. doi:10.1007/s10942-016-0240-4

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • David, D., & Avellino, M. (2002). A synopsis of rational-emotive behavior therapy: Basic, fundamental and applied research. Research Section of the Albert Ellis Institute. http.//www.rebt.org.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • David, D., David, A., Ghinea, C., Macavei, B., & Kallay, E. (2005). A search for “hot” cognitions in a clinical and non-clinical context: Appraisal, attributions, core relational themes, irrational beliefs, and their relations to emotion. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 5, 1–42.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • David, D., Montgomery, G.H., Macavei, B., & Bovbjerg, D.H. (2005). An empirical investigation of Albert Ellis’s binary model of distress. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61(4), 499–516. PubMed ID: 15529301 doi:10.1002/jclp.20058

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • David, D., Schnur, J., & Belloiu, A. (2002). Another search for the “hot” cognitions: Appraisal, irrational beliefs, attributions, and their relation to emotion. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 20(2), 93–131. doi:10.1023/A:1019876601693

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deen, S., Turner, M.J., & Wong, R. (2017). The effects of REBT and credos on irrational beliefs and resilient qualities in athletes. The Sport Psychologist, 31(3), 249–263. doi:10.1123/tsp.2016-0057

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DiLorenzo, T.A., David, D., & Montgomery, G.H. (2007). The interrelations between irrational cognitive processes and distress in stressful academic settings. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 765–776. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2006.08.022

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dryden, W. (2009). How to think and intervene like an REBT therapist. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Ellis, A. (1957). Rational psychotherapy and individual psychology. Journal of Individual Psychology, 13, 38–44.

  • Ellis, A., David, D., & Lynn, S.J. (2010). Rational and irrational beliefs: A historical and conceptual perspective. In D. David, S.J. Lynn, & A. Ellis, (Eds.). Rational and irrational beliefs: Research, theory, and clinical practice (pp. 3–22). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellis, A., & Dryden, W. (1997). The practice of rational-emotive behavior therapy. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

  • Engels, G.I., Garnefski, N., & Diekstra, R.F. (1993). Efficacy of rational-emotive therapy: A quantitative analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61(6), 1083–1090. PubMed ID: 8113487 doi:10.1037/0022-006X.61.6.1083

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • England Athletics. (2014). Athletics and mental health. Sport in mind. Retrieved from http://www.englandathletics.org/library-media/documents/athletics-and-mental-health-v4.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Felton L., & Jowett S. (2013). The mediating role of social environmental factors in the associations between attachment styles and basic needs satisfaction. Journal of Sports Sciences, 31(6), 618–628. PubMed ID: 23153000 doi:10.1080/02640414.2012.744078

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frank, R., Nixdorf, I., & Beckmann, J. (2015). Depression among elite athletes: Prevalence and psychological factors. Deutsche Zeitschrift Für Sportmedizin. Retrieved from http://www.zeitschrift-sportmedizin.de/fileadmin/content/Englische_Artikel/Originalia_Frank_englisch.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gonzalez, J., Nelson, J., Gutkin, T., Saunders, A., Galloway, A., & Shwery, C. (2004). Rational emotive therapy with children and adolescents: A meta-analysis. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 12(4), 222–235. doi:10.1177/10634266040120040301

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hammond, T., Gialloreto, C., Kubas, H., & Davis, H. (2013). The prevalence of failure-based depression among elite athletes. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 23(4), 273–277. PubMed ID: 23528842 doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e318287b870

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hayes, A.F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 408–420. doi:10.1080/03637750903310360

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hayes, A.F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling [White paper]. Retrieved from http://www.afhayes.com/public/process2012.pdf

    • Export Citation
  • HayesS.C., FolletteV.M., & LinehanM.M. (Eds.). (2004). Mindfulness and acceptance: Expanding the cognitive behavioral tradition. New York, NY: Guilford.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hughes, L., & Leavey, G. (2012). Setting the bar: Athletes and vulnerability to mental illness. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 200(2), 95–96. PubMed ID: 22297587 doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.111.095976

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Junge, A., & Feddermann-Demont, N. (2016). Prevelance of depression and anxiety in top-level male and female football players. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 2, 000087. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2015-000087

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Loewenthal, K.M. (2004). An introduction to psychological tests and scales (2nd ed.). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

  • Longmore, R.J., & Worrell, M. (2007). Do we need to challenge thoughts in cognitive behaviour therapy? Clinical Psychology Review, 27, 173–187. PubMed ID: 17157970 doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2006.08.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lyons, L.C., & Woods, P.J. (1991). The efficacy of rational-emotive therapy: A quantitative review of the outcome research. Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 357–369. doi:10.1016/0272-7358(91)90113-9

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Macavei, B. (2005). The role of irrational beliefs in the rational emotive behavioral theory of depression. Journal of Cognitive & Behavioral Psychotherapies, 5(1), 73–81.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Macavei, B., & McMahon, J. (2010). The assessment of rational and irrational beliefs. In D. David, S.J. Lynn, & A. Ellis (Eds.), Rational and irrational beliefs: Research, theory, and clinical practice (pp. 115–147). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MacInnes, D. (2004). The theories underpinning rational emotive behaviour therapy: Where’s the supportive evidence? International Journal of Nursing Studies, 41, 685–695. PubMed ID: 15240092 doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2004.02.004

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MacIntyre, T.E., Van Raalte, J., Brewer, B.W., Jones, M., O’shea, D., & McCarthy, P.J. (2016). Mental health challenges in elite sport: Balancing risk with reward. Frontiers in Psychology: Movement Science and Sport Psychology, 8, 1892. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01892

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martin, R.C., & Dahlen, E.R. (2004). Irrational beliefs and the experience and expression of anger. Journal of Rational Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 22, 3–20. doi:10.1023/B:JORE.0000011574.44362.8f

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McLean C.P., & Anderson E.R. (2009). Brave men and timid women? A review of the gender differences in fear and anxiety. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 496–505. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T., Bebbington, P., & Jenkins, R. (2007). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England: Results of a household survey. Health and Social Information Centre, Social Care Statistics. England, UK: NHS Digital.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Michael Jamieson: Depression goes unrecognised in elite sport. (2017, February 28). BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39114128

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C.E. (2002). Selecting outcomes for the sociology of mental health: Issues of measurement and dimensionality. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 152–170. PubMed ID: 12096697 doi:10.2307/3090194

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moller, A.T., & Van der Merwe, J.D. (1997). Irrational beliefs, interpersonal perception and marital adjustment. Journal of Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 15, 260–290.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nixdorf, I., Frank, R., & Beckmann, J. (2015). An explorative study on major stressors and its connection to depression and chronic stress among German elite athletes. Advances in Physical Education, 5, 255–262. doi:10.4236/ape.2015.54030

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nixdorf, I., Frank, R., & Beckmann, J. (2016). Comparison of athletes’ proneness to depressive symptoms in individual and team sports: Research on psychological mediators in junior elite athletes. Frontiers in Psychology, 17(7), 893.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nixdorf I., Frank R., Hautzinger M., & Beckmann J. (2013). Prevalence of depressive symptoms and correlating variables among German elite athletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 7, 313–326. doi:10.1123/jcsp.7.4.313

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Payton, A.R. (2009). Mental health, mental illness, and psychological distress: Same continuum or distinct phenomena? Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 50(2), 213–227. doi:10.1177/002214650905000207

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Proctor, S.L., & Boan-Lenzo, C. (2010). Prevalence of depressive symptoms in male intercollegiate student-athletes and nonathletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 4(3), 204–220. doi:10.1123/jcsp.4.3.204

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reardon, C.L., & Factor, R.M. (2010). Sport psychiatry: A systematic review of diagnosis and medical treatment of mental illness in athletes. Sports Medicine, 40, 961–980. PubMed ID: 20942511 doi:10.2165/11536580-000000000-00000

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schaal, K., Tafflet, M., Nassif, H., Thibault, V., Pichard, C., Alcotte, M., … Toussaint, J.F. (2011). Psychological balance in high level athletes: Gender-differences and sport-specific patterns. PLoS ONE, 6(5), e19007. PubMed ID: 21573222 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019007

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, M. (2011). Research methods in accounting (2nd ed.). London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd.

  • Spielberger, C.D. (1979). Preliminary manual for the state-trait personality inventory. Unpublished manual, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spielberger C.D. (1995). Preliminary manual for the state-trait personality inventory (STPI), Centre of research in behavioural medicine and health psychology. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spielberger, C.D., & Reheiser, E.C. (2009). Assessment of emotions: Anxiety, anger, depression, and curiosity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 1(3), 271–302.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Storch, E.A., Storch, J.B., Killiany, E.M., & Roberti, J.W. (2005). Self-reported psychopathology in athletes: A comparison of intercollegiate student-athletes and non-athletes. Journal of Sport Behavior, 28(1), 86–98.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, M.J. (2016). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), irrational and rational beliefs, and the mental health of athletes. Frontiers: Movement Science and Sport Psychology, 7, 1423. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01423

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, M.J., Allen, M., Slater, M.J., Barker, J.B., Woodcock, C., Harwood, C.G., & McFadyen, K. (2018). The development and initial validation of the irrational performance beliefs inventory (iPBI). European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 34(3), 174–180. doi:10.1027/1015-5759/a000314

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, M.J., & Barker, J.B. (2013). Examining the efficacy of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) on irrational beliefs and anxiety in elite youth cricketers Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 25(1), 137–147. doi:10.1080/10413200.2011.574311

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, M.J., & Barker, J.B. (2015). Examining the effects of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) on the irrational beliefs of blue-chip professionals. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 33(1), 17–36. doi:10.1007/s10942-014-0200-9

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, M.J., & Moore, M. (2016). Irrational beliefs predict increased emotional and physical exhaustion in Gaelic football athletes. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 47(2), 187–201.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, M.J., Slater, M.J., & Barker, J.B. (2015). The season-long effects of rational emotive behavior therapy on the irrational beliefs of professional academy soccer athletes. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 5, 429–451.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Uglesić, B., Lasić, D., Zuljan-Cvitanović, M., Buković, D., Karelović, D., Delić-Brkljacić, D., … Radan, M. (2014). Prevalence of depressive symptoms among college students and the influence of sport activity. College Anthropology, 38(1), 235–239.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Visla, A., Fluckiger, C., Grosse Holtforth, M., & David, D. (2016). Irrational beliefs and psychological distress: A meta-analysis. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 85, 8–15. PubMed ID: 26609889 doi:10.1159/000441231

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walen, S., & Greiger, R. (1988). Cognitive-behavior therapy with women. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 6, 4–8. doi:10.1007/BF01061061

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wolanin, A., Hong, E., Marks, D., Panchoo, K., & Gross, M. (2016). Prevalence of clinically elevated depressive symptoms in college athletes and differences by gender and sport. British Journal Sports Medicine, 50(3), 167–171. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095756

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wood, A., Barker, J.B., & Turner, M.J. (2016). Developing performance using rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT): A case study with an elite archer. The Sport Psychologist, 31(1), 78–87. doi:10.1123/tsp.2015-0083

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yang, J., Peek-Asa, C., Corlette, J.D., Cheng, G., Foster, D.T., & Albright, J. (2007). Prevalence of and risk factors associated with symptoms of depression in competitive collegiate student athletes. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 17, 481–487. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e31815aed6b

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 439 439 34
Full Text Views 17 17 3
PDF Downloads 7 7 3