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Alan L. Smith

This study tested a model describing the relationships among perceptions of peer relationships, physical self-worth, affective responses toward physical activity, and physical activity motivation. The model was grounded in Harter’s (1978,1981a, 1986,1987) theoretical perspective, proposing that perceptions of peer relationships (i.e., friendship, peer acceptance) would predict physical activity motivation via affect and physical self-worth. Adolescents (N = 418, ages 12–15 years) completed a battery of questionnaires that assessed the study variables. Results of structural equation modeling analyses supported the overall model and most of the hypothesized direct and indirect relationships among variables for both female and male samples. Examination of alternative models suggested that some expected relationships might have been suppressed by a high correlation between the friendship and peer-acceptance constructs. However, alternative models also showed that these constructs independently contribute to predicting motivational variables. The results illustrate the importance of peer relationships to adolescent physical activity motivation.

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Alan L. Smith

In observing others and participating in social exchanges, people learn about aspects of physical activity, become inspired or discouraged to be active, and are afforded physical activity and other choices that are pursued with varying degrees of effort and persistence. With respect to children and adolescents, peers are uniquely situated social agents that we could more intensively study and leverage to the benefit of understanding and promoting physical activity. The author presents a case for expanding peer-focused physical activity research. He overviews how peers can both facilitate and undermine physical activity motivation (i.e., through desire for affiliation, social comparison, and social rejection) and how peers express structure (i.e., flocking) in ways that may offer paths to successful physical activity promotion. He then presents knowledge gaps and critical conceptual and methodological considerations that must be addressed to advance scientific understanding and peer-focused physical-activity-promotion efforts.

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J.D. DeFreese and Alan L. Smith

Person-centered investigations of athlete burnout have utility to unearth novel information about this developmental experience within the social environment of competitive sport. Guided by extant theory, conceptually proposed developmental patterns of athlete burnout were examined across a season as expressed in profiles of emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced accomplishment, and sport devaluation perceptions. Athlete social perceptions were also explored as predictors of profile membership. Collegiate athletes (N = 129) completed established assessments of study variables at four in-season time points. Latent profile analysis revealed profiles characterized by athletes experiencing the three burnout dimensions similarly at any given time point, with the notable exception of exhaustion being more frequently experienced in some profiles. Social support perceptions predicted profile membership with moderate success. Trends in profile stability provide some support for consideration of exhaustion-driven burnout experiences. Results shed light on the theoretical pathways of burnout development and inform continued longitudinal burnout research efforts.

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Maureen R. Weiss and Alan L. Smith

The role of peers has been neglected in research on youth psychosocial development in sport. The purpose of the present study was to develop and validate a measure of youth sport friendship quality for the purpose of facilitating such research. Dimensions and higher order themes found in Weiss, Smith, and Theeboom’s (1996) qualitative study of sport friendships among children and adolescents, as well as a core set of items from previous research (Parker & Asher, 1993), were used to develop and refine items for a sport friendship quality scale. Over the course of three studies, content, factorial, and construct validity, as well as internal consistency and test-retest reliability, were demonstrated for the Sport Friendship Quality Scale (SFQS). Future research is recommended to examine the role of children’s sport friendship quality on psychosocial development in the physical domain.

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Thomas D. Raedeke and Alan L. Smith

The purpose of this research was to develop a psychometrically sound measure of athlete burnout. In Study 1, exploratory factor analysis revealed burn-out dimensions reflective of emotional/physical exhaustion, reduced sense of swimming accomplishment, and swimming devaluation. In two subsequent studies, the psychometric properties of a refined version of this measure were examined. Independent samples of senior age-group swimmers and college athletes from a variety of sports completed a questionnaire that tapped the three burnout dimensions as well as stress- and motivation-related variables. Confirmatory factor analysis and alternative model testing supported the specified three-factor burnout model. In support of construct validity, the burnout subscales correlated positively with stress, trait anxiety, and amotivation, and correlated negatively with coping, social support, enjoyment, commitment, and intrinsic motivation indices across the two studies.

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Maureen R. Weiss and Alan L. Smith

The purpose of this study was to examine age and gender differences in the quality of sport friendship, assess the relationship between friendship quality and motivation related variables, and obtain additional support for the validity of the Sport Friendship Quality Scale (SFQS; Weiss & Smith, 1999). Tennis players (N = 191, ages 10–18 years) completed the SFQS and other measures salient to the questions of the study. A MANOVA revealed that adolescent athletes ages 14–18 years rated loyalty and intimacy, things in common, and conflict higher than did younger players, ages 10–13 years, who in turn rated companionship and pleasant play higher. Girls rated self-esteem enhancement and supportiveness, loyalty and intimacy, and things in common higher than did boys, who rated conflict higher. Regression analysis indicated that companionship and pleasant play, conflict resolution, and things in common predicted higher tennis enjoyment and commitment. The collective findings—confirmation of the SFQS six-factor structure, relationships between sport friendship quality dimensions and peer acceptance, and relationships of sport friendship quality dimensions with Harter’s (1988) close friendship measure—support the validity of the SFQS.

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J. D. DeFreese and Alan L. Smith

Social support and negative social interactions have implications for athlete psychological health, with potential to influence the links of stress-related experiences with burnout and well-being over time. Using a longitudinal design, perceived social support and negative social interactions were examined as potential moderators of the temporal stress–burnout and burnout–well-being relationships. American collegiate athletes (N = 465) completed reliable and valid online assessments of study variables at four time points during the competitive season. After controlling for dispositional and conceptually important variables, social support and negative social interactions did not moderate the stress–burnout or burnout–well-being relationships, respectively, but did simultaneously contribute to burnout and well-being across the competitive season. The results showcase the importance of sport-related social perceptions to athlete psychological outcomes over time and inform development of socially driven interventions to improve the psychological health of competitive athletes.