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Understanding the practitioner attributes that influence consumers’ preferences is of vital importance to licensing organizations and individual practitioners in the field of sport psychology (Hamberger & Iso-Ahola, 2006; Van Raalte, Brewer, Matheson & Brewer, 1996). This study examined consumer preferences toward three professional titles (sport psychologist, life coach, and neuro-linguistic programming practitioner) and a range of other practitioner characteristics, as well as the extent to which a brief intervention impacted these preferences. Following an assessment of current preferences among athletes (N = 229), researchers presented brief, educational vignettes formed of enhanced information regarding the three professions. Conjoint analysis was used to determine the relative importance of practitioner attributes pre- and postintervention. Interpersonal skills emerged as the most important attribute before intervention. Several significant, postintervention changes emerged in consumer preferences for practitioners, including an increased salience of professional title. The findings are discussed with an emphasis on implications for the training, professional development, and marketing of practitioners to potential clients.
The authors are with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK. Address author correspondence to Chris Harwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.