Looking the Part: Female Sports Psychologists’ Body Mass Index and Dress Influences Athletes’ Perceptions of Their Potential Effectiveness

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 University of the Sunshine Coast
  • | 2 University of Gloucestershire
  • | 3 Northumbria University
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Research has reported that initial evaluations of consultants’ competency are affected by dress and build. This investigation examined how athletes’ perceptions of sport psychology consultants (SPCs) are affected by SPCs’ physical characteristics of BMI and dress, and whether these perceptions are moderated by the athletes’ sex or standard of competition. Two hundred and thirty three competitive sports volunteers classified by sex and competitive standard viewed computer generated images of the same female SPC in sports and formal attire manipulated to represent a range of body mass indexes. Participants were asked to rank the SPCs in order of their preference to work with them, and to rate their perceived effectiveness of each of the SPCs. Results demonstrated that SPCs’ physical characteristics do influence athletes’ preference to work with them and perceptions of their effectiveness. Furthermore, athlete’s competitive standard does significantly moderate initial evaluation of SPCs based on physical characteristics.

Lovell is with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia. Parker, Brady, and Cotterill are with the University of Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, UK. Howatson is with Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.

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