Multidimensional Self-concepts of Elite Athletes: How Do They Differ from the General Population?

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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A broad cross-section of elite athletes (n = 83) was compared to a normative sample (n = 2,436) of nonathletes on the 13 self-concept scales for the Self-Description Questionnaire III (SDQIII). On these scales athletes had substantially higher Physical Ability self-concepts than nonathletes, but did not differ on Physical Appearance self-concepts. There were smaller differences favoring athletes on social scales (Same Sex, Opposite Sex, and Parent Relationships), Global Esteem, and the total self-concept. Group differences were not statistically significant for the academic scales (Math, Verbal, Academic, and Problem Solving) and Emotional self-concept, whereas nonathletes had marginally higher Spiritual and Honesty self-concepts. Athlete/nonathlete differences varied somewhat according to gender, generally favoring women athletes. Because the pattern of group differences (e.g., large differences in Physical Ability and minimal differences in Academic self-concept scales) is reasonably similar to a priori predictions, the results provide further support for the construct validity of SDQIII responses.

Herbert W. Marsh and Lawrence Roche are with the University of Western Sydney, Macarthur, P.O. Box 555, Campbelltown, NSW 2560. Clark Perry and Chris Horsely are with the Australian Institute of Sport, P.O. Box 176, Belconnen, ACT 2616, Australia.

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