Toward the Combined Use of Nomothetic and Idiographic Methodologies in Sport Psychology: An Empirical Example

in The Sport Psychologist

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John G.H. DunnUniversity of Alberta

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Traditionally, nomothetic and idiographic methodologies have been viewed as antithetical. This dichotomous perspective has caused many researchers to advocate the benefits associated with only one of the two approaches. Such a biased view hinders the acquisition of knowledge in the sport psychology field because the potential benefits that the nonfavored approach can offer are frequently overlooked. The present study demonstrates how research in sport psychology can be enhanced by combining nomothetic and idiographic procedures. This combined approach provides the researcher with the opportunity to validate nomothetic principles at the individual level, while simultaneously generating nomothetic hypotheses from idiographic analyses. To illustrate these points, a nomothetic profile of situational threat perceptions based upon the responses of 46 ice hockey players (reported by Dunn & Nielsen, 1993) is compared with the perceptual profiles of three individual ice hockey players. The comparisons show many unique perceptual differences between the group and individual solutions.

John G.H. Dunn is with the Department of Physical Education and Sport Studies at The University of Alberta, P-421 Van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, AB Canada T6G 2H9.

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