The ways in which newcomers are integrated into sport teams may have broad consequences for the athletes entering the group, as well as for the existing team members. Drawing from organizational socialization theory, the current research developed a questionnaire to assess athletes’ perceptions of how newcomers are socialized into their group. Across four studies, think-aloud interviews (N = 8), an expert panel review (N = 6), cross-sectional tests of the factor structure (N Study 2 = 197; N Study 3 = 460), and a two-wave correlational design (N Study 4 = 194) were used to evaluate the construct validity and the internal consistency of the Sport Team Socialization Tactics Questionnaire (STSTQ). Collectively, these efforts identified a three-factor structure underlying the STSTQ and provided preliminary evidence for its validity. The STSTQ enables researchers to systematically examine the individual- and group-level consequences associated with the socialization tactics implemented in sport teams.
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Marcus Gottlieb, Mark Eys, James Hardy, and Alex J. Benson
Effective leadership is a collaborative effort, requiring a degree of complementarity in how people enact roles of leadership and followership. Using a novel online vignette methodology, we experimentally tested how three contextual factors influenced coaches’ responses to challenge-oriented acts of followership, as well as investigated two potential mechanisms. Coaches (N = 232) watched videos of an athlete provided unsolicited challenge-oriented feedback to a coach. Videos varied by the (a) athlete’s status, (b) presence of third-party observers, and (c) stage of the decision-making process. Following the video, we assessed coaches’ evaluations of the athlete. Challenge-oriented followership was perceived more favorably when enacted by an athlete in one-on-one (vs. in a group) and before a decision has been reached (vs. after a decision is reached). Coaches may appreciate proactivity from athletes in positions of followership, but challenge-oriented followership behaviors enacted at the wrong time and place can elicit negative reactions.
Alex J. Benson, Mark A. Eys, and P. Gregory Irving
Many athletes experience a discrepancy between the roles they expect to fulfill and the roles they eventually occupy. Drawing from met expectations theory, we applied response surface methodology to examine how role expectations, in relation to role experiences, influence perceptions of group cohesion among Canadian Interuniversity Sport athletes (N = 153). On the basis of data from two time points, as athletes approached and exceeded their role contribution expectations, they reported higher perceptions of task cohesion. Furthermore, as athletes approached and exceeded their social involvement expectations, they reported higher perceptions of social cohesion. These response surface patterns—pertaining to task and social cohesion—were driven by the positive influence of role experiences. On the basis of the interplay between athletes’ role experiences and their perception of the group environment, efforts to improve team dynamics may benefit from focusing on improving the quality of role experiences, in conjunction with developing realistic role expectations.
Rachel A. Van Woezik, Alex J. Benson, and Mark W. Bruner
Injuries are commonplace in high-intensity sport, and research has explored how athletes are psychologically affected by such events. As injuries carry implications for the group environment in sport teams, the authors explored what occurs within a team during a time period of injury from a coach perspective and how high-performance coaches manage a group at this time. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 Canadian university basketball head coaches. Thematic analysis revealed four high-order themes in relation to how coaches managed group dynamics from the moment of the injury event to an athlete’s reintegration into the lineup. Strategies to mitigate the negative effects of injury on the group environment while prioritizing athlete well-being involved remaining stoic at the time of an injury event, maintaining the injured athlete’s sense of connection to the team, and coordinating with support staff throughout the recovery and reintegration process.
Scott A. Graupensperger, Alex J. Benson, and M. Blair Evans
The authors examined athletes’ conformity to teammates’ risky behaviors through a performance-based manipulation paradigm. They hypothesized that athletes who strongly identified with their team would be at increased risk of conforming to teammates’ behaviors. Athletes (N = 379) from 23 intact National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams completed surveys (e.g., social identity) and reported the extent to which they would engage in risky behavior scenarios (e.g., drinking and driving). Then, researchers displayed ostensible responses that were manipulated to appear as though teammates reported high engagement in the risky behaviors. Finally, athletes again responded to the hypothetical scenarios and a conformity index was created. Results indicated that social identity, at both individual and group levels, positively predicted conformity—indicating that athletes with stronger social identities are more susceptible to peer influence. Although these findings highlight a pernicious aspect of social identity, they also provide insight into how group-level processes could be leveraged to prevent risky behaviors in student-athletes.
Alex J. Benson, Mark Eys, Mark Surya, Kimberley Dawson, and Margaret Schneider
Jordan D. Herbison, Luc J. Martin, Alex J. Benson, Colin D. McLaren, Richard B. Slatcher, Ian D. Boardley, Jordan Sutcliffe, Jean Côté, Justin M. Carré, and Mark W. Bruner
This study used ecological sampling methods to examine associations between youth athletes’ experiences receiving and engaging in behaviors indicative of in-group ties, cognitive centrality, and in-group affect (i.e., social identity) during a 3-day competitive ice hockey tournament. Forty-five youth (M age = 12.39 years; SD age = 1.14 years; 94% male) from nine teams wore an electronically activated recorder that captured brief (50-s) audio observations throughout the tournament. Participants also completed daily diary questionnaires for each day of competition. Multilevel structural equation modeling demonstrated that athletes were more likely to engage in behaviors indicative of in-group affect and cognitive centrality on days when they received as higher-than-average frequency of behaviors indicative of cognitive centrality from teammates, coaches, and parents. The findings suggest that when team members interact in ways that demonstrate they are thinking about their team, they influence fellow members to behave in ways that promote a sense of “us.”