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Alex J. Benson and Mark Eys

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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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.

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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.

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Alex J. Benson, Mark Eys, Mark Surya, Kimberley Dawson and Margaret Schneider