Many athletes experience a discrepancy between the roles they expect to fulfill and the roles they eventually occupy. Drawing from met expectations theory, we applied response surface methodology to examine how role expectations, in relation to role experiences, influence perceptions of group cohesion among Canadian Interuniversity Sport athletes (N = 153). On the basis of data from two time points, as athletes approached and exceeded their role contribution expectations, they reported higher perceptions of task cohesion. Furthermore, as athletes approached and exceeded their social involvement expectations, they reported higher perceptions of social cohesion. These response surface patterns—pertaining to task and social cohesion—were driven by the positive influence of role experiences. On the basis of the interplay between athletes’ role experiences and their perception of the group environment, efforts to improve team dynamics may benefit from focusing on improving the quality of role experiences, in conjunction with developing realistic role expectations.
Alex J. Benson is with the Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Mark A. Eysis with Department of Psychology and the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. P. Gregory Irving is with the School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.