This paper is the fourth in a series of related papers debating aggression and violence in sport. The first was the ISSP Position Stand (PS; Tenenbaum, Stewart, Singer, & Duda, 1997), the second a rejoinder (Kerr, 1999), and the third a reply to Kerr’s rejoinder (Tenenbaum, Sacks, Miller, Golden, & Doolin, 2000). The purpose of this fourth paper is to revisit five of the major issues in the debate on aggression and violence in sport concerned with arguments put forward by Kerr (1997), which were subsequently misinterpreted and misrepresented by Tenenbaum et al. (2000). The purpose of this paper is to correct some of these errors and to continue to argue that the PS needs to be revised and redrafted before it will be acceptable to the groups at which it is aimed, especially those involved in team contact sports.
John H. Kerr
This paper is intended as a response to the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP) Position Stand on aggression and violence in sport (Tenenbaum, Stewart, Singer, & Duda, 1997). It challenges several arguments presented in the ISSP Position Stand. The current paper offers several counterarguments designed to clarify the real nature of aggression and violence in sport. It also suggests that the ISSP recommendations for dramatically reducing the incidence of aggression and violence in sport be radically revised and redrafted.
John H. Kerr
In this article, the basic postulates of reversal theory are described, and the potential of the theory for professional practice in sport psychology is clarified. At focus is the reversal theory approach to athlete problem assessment (especially reversal process problems), intervention treatment and strategies, and the behavior of the successful therapist towards the athlete. Reversal theory’s comprehensive conceptual model, together with applications of the theory in psychotherapy, are used to support arguments for an eclectic but systematic approach to intervention work with sport performers.
John H. Kerr and Pippa Grange
This case study examined interpersonal communication in sport in the form of verbal aggression among elite athletes in the Australian Football League (AFL). It focused on the experience and motivation of athletes who use athlete-to-athlete verbal aggression and the responses of athletes who have been the targets of verbal aggression during games. In addition, the reasons athletes have for not engaging in verbal aggression were also examined. Purposive sampling procedures produced a select sample of elite male athletes known for their aggressive approach to playing Australian football. Qualitative methods and deductive analysis procedures, informed by J.H. Kerr’s categories of sport aggression, were used to interpret the interview data. Meaningful insights into verbal aggression in the AFL were obtained. Based on the underlying motivation, interview transcript descriptions of incidents were identified as examples of power, thrill, and anger verbal aggression.
Jonathan R. Males and John H. Kerr
This paper examines the relationship between precompetitive affect and performance, using elements of reversal theory (Apter, 1982): a conceptual framework that incorporates a full range of pleasant and unpleasant moods. Nine elite male slalom canoeists completed questionnaires prior to each event of a season that included the world championships. Results were analyzed using a time-series model to make comparisons of each subject’s best and worst performance of the season. Predicted variations in precompetitive levels of pleasant and unpleasant mood did not occur, despite variations in subsequent performances. As predicted, good performances were preceded by low discrepancies between felt and preferred arousal levels, but there was no support for the hypothesis that a large discrepancy between perceived stress and coping efforts would precede a poor performance.
John H. Kerr and Susan Houge Mackenzie
The main objective was to further unravel the experience of motivation in an expert male skydiver by investigating: (1) his general experience of motivation and perception of the dangers of skydiving; (2) his pursuit of new challenges and learning new skills as factors in maintaining motivation; (3) evidence of a mastery-based confidence frame in his motivational experience. This was a unique case study informed by reversal theory. The participant’s perception of skydiving was that it was not a risky or dangerous activity and a primary motive for his involvement in skydiving was personal goal achievement. Maintaining control and mastery during skydiving was a key motivational element during his long career and pursuing new challenges and learning new skills was found to be important for his continued participation. Data indicated that his confidence frame was based on a telic-mastery state combination, which challenged previous reversal theory research findings and constructs.
John H. Kerr and Pippa Grange
John H. Kerr
This oral history research explores the experience of ten retired elite Australian football players during their careers in the period from 1970 to 1995. The ex-players were interviewed about their careers by sports journalist, Mike Sheahan, in the long-running Australia Fox Sports Open Mike television series. The particular focus of this historical research is ex-players’ experience of on-field violence. Findings indicated that ex-players were willing to break the Australian football rules and engage in on-field violence either as intimidation or retaliation against opponents. When ex-players did engage in violent intimidatory behavior, they were cool and callous, and anger rarely played a role. Violent retaliation to opposition player transgressions was either immediate or delayed until a future opportunity presented itself. For one Indigenous ex-player, violent responses during games were often sparked by opponents’ verbal racial abuse. In retrospect, he considered this a form of intimidation aimed at putting him off his game that was just part of Australian football at the time. Some ex-players did feel remorse about their violent acts, but others were adamant that they had no regrets about their behavior. Violence was almost expected as an everyday aspect of their football experience and was accepted as an occupational hazard.
Jonathan R. Males, John H. Kerr, Joanne Thatcher, and Emma Bellew
The present study investigated the psychological experiences of elite athletes in a team that failed using qualitative methods informed by reversal theory. Five athletes, from a national men’s volleyball team, playing in a European tournament completed a post-game review after each of 6 games. After the tournament, each player took part in in-depth semi-structured interviews, prompted by their post-game reviews. The results indicated that unrealistic expectations, poor team motivation, a negative coaching style, and faulty team process around game performance played an important role in the failure of this team. Also, inappropriate metamotivational states and state reversals were found to have had a negative impact on team performance. Several consultant recommendations for enhancing team motivation and functioning are identified.
John H. Kerr, Cecilia K. F. Au, and Koenraad J. Lindner
As part of a sport and exercise participation questionnaire, samples of Hong Kong high school students (n = 1,496) and high school students entering university (n = 862) completed the Motivational Style Profile (MSP; 4). In addition, 1,493 high school and 848 university entrants completed the MSP-SE, a sport and exercise version of the MSP. Students also completed six extra items related to general life motivational orientations (LMOs) and one other item relating to the frequency of their sport and exercise participation. Based on their answers to this latter item, students were divided into inactive, active, and very active groups and their metamotivational profiles tested for differences. MANOVA techniques produced several significant differences among activity groups in metamotivational dominance and state balance dimensions. The results are presented, and then they are discussed in terms of their implications for sport and exercise provision in high school, university, and more general contexts.