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Empathy Inhibits Aggression in Competition: The Role of Provocation, Emotion, and Gender

Nicholas Stanger, Maria Kavussanu, David McIntyre, and Christopher Ring

Although the empathy–aggression relationship has been well documented, research has yet to establish whether emotions mediate and gender moderates this relationship in athletes, under conditions of low and high provocation. In this experiment, we assigned team-sport athletes to either a high (n = 40) or a low (n = 40) empathy group, and asked them to compete in a reaction-time task against a (fictitious) opponent, under conditions of low and high provocation. Empathy reduced aggression (i.e., intensity of electrical shock administered to the opponent) at low provocation in men, and at both low and high provocation in women. Guilt mediated the effect of empathy on aggression at low provocation in men; anger did not mediate any effects of empathy on aggression. Our findings indicate that the inhibitory effect of empathy on aggression and the mediating role of guilt are moderated by provocation and gender.

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The Effects of Individual and Team Competitions on Performance, Emotions, and Effort

Andrew Cooke, Maria Kavussanu, David McIntyre, and Christopher Ring

It is well documented that competition can affect performance and emotion in sport. However, our understanding of the comparative effects of individual and team competitions on performance and emotion is limited. We also know little about emotion-based mechanisms underlying the effects of different types of competition on performance. To address these issues, 64 participants completed a handgrip endurance task during time-trial, one-on-one, two-on-two, and four-on-four competitions while self-report and possible corroborative physiological measures of enjoyment, anxiety, and effort were assessed. Results indicated that performance, enjoyment, anxiety, and effort increased from individual to team competitions. The observed increases in performance were mediated by increased enjoyment and effort. Our findings illustrate differential effects of individual and team competitions on performance and emotion. Moreover, they indicate that both enjoyment-based and anxiety-based mechanisms can explain changes in performance among different types of individual and team competition.

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Orthogonality of Achievement Goals and Its Relationship to Beliefs about Success and Satisfaction in Sport

Glyn C. Roberts, Darren C. Treasure, and Maria Kavussanu

The present study examined the relationship between dispositional achievement goal orientations and satisfaction and beliefs about success in sport. Participants were 333 students who were administered the Perception of Success Questionnaire (POSQ) (Roberts & Balague, 1989,1991; Roberts, Treasure, & Balague, 1995), Beliefs about Success, and Satisfaction/Interest/Boredom Questionnaires (Duda & Nicholls, 1992). Consistent with theory (Nicholls, 1984, 1989) and previous research, task and ego goal orientations were found to be orthogonal. Following an extreme group split of the task and ego subscales of the POSQ, results of a 2 X 2 (High/Low Ego; High/Low Task) multivariate analyses of variance revealed a significant interaction effect between task and ego orientation. Specifically, participants high in ego and low in task orientation believed effort to be less a cause of success while high tasMow ego-oriented individuals were the least likely to attribute success to external factors. The findings are discussed in terms of their motivational implications for athletes.

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Coaching Efficacy and Coaching Effectiveness: Examining Their Predictors and Comparing Coaches’ and Athletes’ Reports

Maria Kavussanu, Ian D. Boardley, Natalia Jutkiewicz, Samantha Vincent, and Christopher Ring

Research on the conceptual model of coaching efficacy (Feltz, Chase, Moritz, & Sullivan, 1999) has increased dramatically over the past few years. Utilizing this model as the guiding framework, the current study examined: (a) coaching experience and sex as predictors of coaches’ coaching efficacy; (b) sport experience, sex, and the match/mismatch in sex between coach and athlete as predictors of athletes’ perceptions of their coach’s effectiveness on the four coaching efficacy domains; and (c) whether coaches’ reports of coaching efficacy and athletes’ perceptions of coaching effectiveness differed. Coaches (N = 26) and their athletes (N = 291) from 8 individual and 7 team sports drawn from British university teams (N = 26) participated in the study. Coaches completed the Coaching Efficacy Scale (CES), while athletes evaluated their coach’s effectiveness using an adapted version of the CES; coaches and athletes also responded to demographic questions. Results indicated that, in coaches, years of coaching experience positively predicted technique coaching efficacy, and males reported higher game strategy efficacy than females. In athletes, sport experience negatively predicted all perceived coaching effectiveness dimensions, and the mismatch in sex between athletes and their coach negatively predicted perceived motivation and character building coaching effectiveness. Finally, on average, coaches’ ratings of coaching efficacy were significantly higher than their athletes’ ratings of coaching effectiveness on all dimensions. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for coaching effectiveness.

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Bracketed Morality Revisited: How Do Athletes Behave in Two Contexts?

Maria Kavussanu, Ian D. Boardley, Sam S. Sagar, and Christopher Ring

The concept of bracketed morality has received empirical support in several sport studies (e.g., Bredemeier & Shields, 1986a, 1986b). However, these studies have focused on moral reasoning. In this research, we examined bracketed morality with respect to moral behavior in sport and university contexts, in two studies. Male and female participants (Study 1: N = 331; Study 2: N = 372) completed questionnaires assessing prosocial and antisocial behavior toward teammates and opponents in sport and toward other students at university. Study 2 participants also completed measures of moral disengagement and goal orientation in both contexts. In most cases, behavior in sport was highly correlated with behavior at university. In addition, participants reported higher prosocial behavior toward teammates and higher antisocial behavior toward opponents in sport than toward other students at university. The effects of context on antisocial behavior were partially mediated by moral disengagement and ego orientation. Our findings extend the bracketed morality concept to prosocial and antisocial behavior.

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The Effects of Training and Competition on Achievement Goals, Motivational Responses, and Performance in a Golf-Putting Task

Pepijn K.C. van de Pol, Maria Kavussanu, and Christopher Ring

This study examined whether (a) training and competition influence achievement goals, effort, enjoyment, tension, and performance; (b) achievement goals mediate the effects of training and competition on effort, enjoyment, tension, and performance; and (c) the context influences the relationships between goals and effort, enjoyment, tension, and performance. Participants (32 males, 28 females; M age = 19.12 years) performed a golf-putting task in a training condition and a competition condition and completed measures of goal involvement, effort, enjoyment, and tension; putting performance was also measured. Both task and ego involvement varied across training and competition, and variation in ego involvement explained variation in effort and enjoyment between these conditions. Ego involvement positively predicted effort in training and performance in competition, and interacted positively with task involvement to predict effort and enjoyment in competition. Our findings suggest that the distinction between training and competition is a valuable one when examining individuals’ achievement motivation.

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A Moral Intervention Reduces Doping Likelihood in British and Greek Athletes: Evidence From a Cluster Randomized Control Trial

Maria Kavussanu, Philip Hurst, Mariya Yukhymenko-Lescroart, Evangelos Galanis, Ailish King, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, and Christopher Ring

Objectives: The authors aimed to develop a moral intervention and to determine whether it was more effective in preventing doping than an educational (i.e., knowledge-based) intervention; their primary outcome was doping likelihood, and the secondary outcomes were moral identity, moral disengagement, moral atmosphere, and anticipated guilt. Methods: Eligible athletes (N = 303) in the United Kingdom and Greece took part in the study. The authors randomly assigned 33 clubs to either the moral or the educational intervention. They measured outcomes pre- and postintervention and at 3- and 6-month follow-up. Results: Athletes in both interventions in both countries reported lower doping likelihood and moral disengagement and higher guilt from pre- to postintervention. These effects were maintained at the 3- and 6-month follow-ups. There were no effects on moral identity or moral atmosphere. Conclusions: In addition to disseminating information about doping, doping prevention programs should include content that focuses on moral variables.