Efficacy, Mechanisms of Change, and the Scientific Development of Sport Psychology

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Frank L. Gardner Kean University

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The development and acceptance of any scientific discipline requires an ever-expanding and maturing empirical base. Yet despite vast scientific progress in allied domains of professional psychology, the field of sport psychology has remained fairly stagnant in its research progress and has overlooked major advances that could aid in the advancement of the discipline. This article discusses important issues related to the lack of efficacy of the traditional and long assumed “gold-standard” interventions for the enhancement of athletic performance, and compares the field’s empirical base to sister disciplines in psychology. Further, the lack of empirical studies examining rate of change, moderators of change, and mediators (mechanisms) of change is discussed, and suggestions are provided for a new research agenda in sport psychology that could expand its professional credibility and enhance its overall scientific development.

The author is with the Nathan Weiss Graduate College at Kean University in Hillside, NJ.

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