Two experiments tested the hypothesis that athletes who consult a sport psychologist to improve performance are derogated by the public compared to athletes who attempt to resolve the same issues by working with their coaches. In the first experiment a college quarterback was reported to have worked with either his coaches or a sport psychologist on improving his consistency. The primary dependent variable was how strongly subjects would recommend drafting the player in question. There was a significant main effect for the coach versus sport psychologist variable, no main effect for the type of problem, and no interaction effect. A set of 10 bipolar scales were analyzed to explore the attributions associated with the draft rating. The second experiment investigated whether the negative halo effect would occur in other sports and apply to players in peripheral as well as central positions. The results indicated that the negative halo effect occurred for a basketball guard on the draft rating but not for a center, a pitcher, or an outfielder. However, a MANOVA of the 10 scales revealed a main effect for the consultant variable. The results of the two experiments were discussed in relation to theories of deviance and stigmatization.
The authors are with the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287.