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Herbert W. Marsh

The Physical Self-Description Questionnaire (PSDQ) is a multidimensional physical self-concept instrument with 11 scales: Strength, Body Fat, Activity, Endurance/Fitness, Sports Competence, Coordination, Health, Appearance, Flexibility, Global Physical, and Global Esteem. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the construct validity of PSDQ responses in relation to 23 external criteria, including measures of body composition, physical activity, endurance, strength, and flexibility for 192 (113 boys and 79 girls) high school students. Each external validity criterion was predicted a priori to be most highly correlated with one of the PSDQ scales. In support of the convergent validity of the PSDQ responses, every predicted correlation was statistically significant. In support of the discriminant validity of the PSDQ responses, most predicted correlations were larger than other correlations involving the same criterion. These results support the construct validity of PSDQ responses in relation to external criteria and their potential usefulness in a wide variety of sports and exercise settings.

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Herbert W. Marsh

The effects of participation in sport during the last 2 years of high school were examined by use of the nationally (United States) representative High School and Beyond data collected between 1980 and 1984. After background variables and outcomes collected during the sophomore year of high school were controlled for, sport participation positively affected 14 of 22 senior and postsecondary outcomes (e.g., social and academic self-concept, educational aspirations, course work selection, homework, reduced absenteeism, and subsequent college attendance) and had no negative effects on the remaining 8 variables. These positive effects were robust, generalizing across individual characteristics (race, socioeconomic status, sex, and ability level), school size, and school climates (academic, social, and sport). The positive effects of sport participation were mediated by academic self-concept and educational aspirations, supporting the proposal that sport participation enhances identification with the school.

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Herbert W. Marsh

Self-concepts (self-perceptions) of physical fitness and academic achievement were related to 14 field and laboratory indicators of physical fitness and to academic achievement for a large, national representative sample of Australian boys and girls aged 9 to 15 (N = 6,283). Correlations between self-concepts and the corresponding external criteria increased steadily with age in both the physical and academic domains. Consistent with predictions from frame-of-reference models, relations were stronger after controlling for gender and age, suggesting that self-concepts are formed relative to other students of a similar age and gender. Fitness self-concept was most strongly related to some individual measures (e.g., 1.6K run, 50M dash, push-ups, skin fold thickness, VO2max, long jump, and body girth scores) and some components of fitness (e.g., cardiovascular endurance, power, dynamic strength, and body composition) than others. Consistent with multidimensional perspectives of physical fitness, indicators from a variety of fitness domains contributed to fitness self-concepts.

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Herbert W. Marsh

Theoretical models of relations between specific components of physical self-concept, global physical self-concept, and global esteem are evaluated. Self-concept models posit that the effect of a specific domain (e.g., strength, endurance, or appearance) on global components should vary with the importance an individual places on the specific domain, but empirical support for this prediction is weak. Fox (1990) incorporated a related assumption into his hierarchical model of physical self-concept, but did not test this assumption. In empirical tests based on responses to the newly developed Physical Self-Description Questionnaire, relations between specific and global components of physical self-concept did not vary with the perceived importance of the specific component, and unweighted averages of specific components were as highly related to global components as importance weighted averages. These results provide no support for the importance of importance in modifying relations between domain-specific and general components of self-concept.

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Herbert W. Marsh

The similarity of the constructs measured by the Perceptions of Success Questionnaire (POS; Roberts, 1993) and the Sports Orientation Questionnaire (SOQ; Gill, 1993) were evaluated using (a) confirmatory factor analyses of responses by 395 high school students (217 males, 178 females, ages 12 to 18) to items adapted from the two instruments and (b) relations to external criteria. Although the POS Mastery and SOQ Goal scales were highly related and reflected task orientation, the SOQ Competitiveness scale was more highly correlated with the POS Mastery and SOQ Goal scales than with the POS Competitiveness scale. Apparently, competitiveness assessed by the SOQ reflects a task orientation, whereas the POS Competitiveness scale reflects primarily an ego orientation. Sport psychologists need to beware of jingle (scales with the same label reflect the same construct) and jangle (scales with different labels measure different construct) fallacies, and pursue construct validity studies more vigorously to test the interpretations of measures.

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Herbert W. Marsh

Physical activity measures for a large, nationally representative sample of Australian boys and girls aged 9, 12, and 15 were related to multiple dimensions of physical fitness. Physical activity during a one-week period was only modestly related to physical fitness. However, relations tended to be higher for length of time multiplied by METs (METs - minday1) than for time alone, time multiplied by perceived effort, or METs - min day−1 multiplied by effort, whereas time multiplied by effort did no better than time alone. Relations tended to be nonlinear in that progressively higher levels of activity had less positive associations with physical fitness. The pattern and size of the relations were consistent across scores for boys and girls aged 9 to 15. Self-report measures of typical and recent (within one week) physical activity both contributed to the prediction of physical fitness, indicating that both aspects of physical activity are important.

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Herbert W. Marsh and Clark Perry

Elite athlete self-concepts contributed to championship performances in two international swimming championships beyond that which could be explained by previous personal best (PPB) performances for 257 of the world’s top swimmers from 30 countries. Responses to the Elite Swimmer Self-Description Questionnaire (ESSDQ) completed at the start of each championship (prior to competition) were psychometrically strong and resulted in a well-defined factor structure. Whereas championship performance was highly related to PPB performance (r = .90), structural equation models demonstrated that elite athlete self-concept also contributed significantly to the prediction of subsequent championship performance, explaining approximately 10% of the residual variance after controlling for PPB. For swimmers who competed in two events, results based on the first event were replicated in the second. The results have important theoretical, substantive, and practical implications for mentors and educators.

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Herbert W. Marsh and Sabina Kleitman

Participation in high school sports had positive effects on many Grade 12 and postsecondary outcomes (e.g., school grades, coursework selection, homework, educational and occupational aspirations, self-esteem, university applications, subsequent college enrollment, and eventual educational attainment) after controlling background variables and parallel outcomes from Grades 8 and 10 in a large, nationally representative, 6-year longitudinal study. In contrast to Zero-Sum and Threshold Models, these positive effects generalized across academic and nonacademic outcomes, across the entire range of athletic participation levels, and across different subgroups of students (e.g., SES, gender, ethnicity, ability levels, educational aspirations). Sport participation is hypothesized to increase identification/commitment to school and school values which mediate the participation effects, particularly for narrowly defined academic outcomes not directly related to sport participation. Consistent with this Identification/Commitment Model, extramural sport, and to a lesser extent team sport, had more positive effects than intramural and individual sports.

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Susan A. Jackson and Herbert W. Marsh

The purpose of this study was to examine relations between women's involvment in sports and three psychological constructs: role conflict, sex-role identification, and multidimensional self-concepts. The three groups comprised female powerlifters competing in a national championship (n = 30), high school female athletes (n = 46), and high school female nonathletes (n = 46). Role conflict was not substantial except for a few specific areas related to conflicting expectations of appropriate female and athlete behavior. Both athletic groups scored substantially higher on masculinity (M) and on self-concept of physical ability than the nonathletic group, but there were no group differences on femininity (F) and few substantial differences in other areas of self-concept. Hence the results provide further support for the construct validity of androgyny and for the multidimensionality of self-concept. The major findings, that female athletes can be more M without being less F, and that female athletic involvement has positive benefits without producing any loss in F or in self-concept, dispels a popular myth about women's involvement in sports.

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Susan A. Jackson and Herbert W. Marsh

The Flow State Scale (FSS) is a new measure of flow in sport and physical activity settings. The nine FSS scales of the 36-item instrument represent the dimensions of flow discussed by Csikszentmihalyi (1990, 1993), and each scale is measured by four items. Development of items was based on (a) past research with flow state both within and outside of sport settings, (b) qualitative analysis of interviews with elite athletes, and (c) quantitative analyses conducted in the present investigation. Internal consistency estimates for the nine FSS scales were reasonable (alpha M = 33) for administration of the scale to 394 athletes. Confirmatory factor analyses supported the nine scales. Consistent with the theoretical basis of the FSS, there was also support for a hierarchical model in which one global (higher order) flow factor explained correlations among the nine first-order FSS factors. Suggestions for use of the scale and for further research are discussed.