On Emotion In Sport: Theoretical and Social Psychological Perspectives

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Robert J. VallerandUniversity of Guelph

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This paper presents and critically assesses four major cognitive theories of emotion. Theories were selected on the basis of their pertinence to a social psychological study of emotion in sport. Four cognitive theories of emotion by Schachter (1964), Lazarus (1966), Arnold (1960), and Weiner (1981) were reviewed. Strengths and weaknesses of these theories were examined. Cognitive theories of emotion were also shown to be amenable to theoretical research in sport. It was suggested that a comprehensive theory of emotion in sport should incorporate aspects of different cognitive theories of emotion thus leading to a better understanding and prediction of emotion in sport settings. Such a comprehensive theory, however, must await future research. Issues for a social psychology of emotion in sport were formulated. It was argued that emotion research in sport should be incorporated within a social psychological framework. To this end it was suggested that a better understanding of the antecedents and consequences of affect is needed in order to fully understand emotion as experienced by sport participants.

This paper was written while the author was pursuing postdoctoral studies in the psychology department at the University of Waterloo and was supported in part by a FCAC postdoctoral fellowship. Special thanks are extended to John Ellard, Larry Brawley, and Dan Landers for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert J. Vallerand, University of Guelph, Department of Psychology, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1.

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