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Appraisal in a Team Context: Perceptions of Cohesion Predict Competition Importance and Prospects for Coping

Svenja A. Wolf, Mark A. Eys, Pamela Sadler, and Jens Kleinert

Athletes’ precompetitive appraisal is important because it determines emotions, which may impact performance. When part of a team, athletes perform their appraisal within a social context, and in this study we examined whether perceived team cohesion, as a characteristic of this context, related to appraisal. We asked 386 male and female intercollegiate team-sport athletes to respond to measures of cohesion and precompetitive appraisal before an in-season game. For males and females, across all teams, (a) an appraisal of increased competition importance was predicted by perceptions of higher task cohesion (individual level), better previous team performance, and a weaker opponent (team level) and (b) an appraisal of more positive prospects for coping with competitive demands was predicted by higher individual attractions to the group (individual level). Consequently, athletes who perceive their team as more cohesive likely appraise the pending competition as a challenge, which would benefit both emotions and performance.

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Great Expectations: How Role Expectations and Role Experiences Relate to Perceptions of Group Cohesion

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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The Relationship between Task Cohesion and Competitive State Anxiety

Mark A. Eys, James Hardy, Albert V. Carron, and Mark R. Beauchamp

The general purpose of the present study was to determine if perceptions of team cohesion are related to the interpretation athletes attach to their precompetition anxiety. Specifically examined was the association between athlete perceptions of task cohesiveness (Individual Attractions to the Group– Task, ATG-T, and Group Integration–Task, GI-T) and the degree to which perceptions of the intensity of precompetition anxiety symptoms (cognitive and somatic) were viewed as facilitative versus debilitative. Participants were athletes (N = 392) from the sports of soccer, rugby, and field hockey. Each athlete completed the Group Environment Questionnaire (Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985) after a practice session. A directionally modified version of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990) was completed just prior to a competition. Results showed that athletes who perceived their cognitive anxiety as facilitative had higher perceptions of both ATG-T and GI-T, χ2 (2, N = 260) = 8.96, p < .05, than athletes who perceived their cognitive anxiety as debilitative. Also, athletes who perceived their somatic anxiety as facilitative had higher perceptions of GI-T, χ2 (2, N = 249) = 5.85, p < .05.

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The Effect of Role Ambiguity on Competitive State Anxiety

Mark R. Beauchamp, Steven R. Bray, Mark A. Eys, and Albert V. Carron

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between role ambiguity and precompetition state anxiety (A-state). Consistent with multidimensional anxiety theory (Martens, Vealey, & Burton, 1990), it was hypothesized that role ambiguity would be positively related to cognitive but not to somatic A-state. Based on the conceptual model presented by Beauchamp, Bray, Eys, and Carron (2002), role ambiguity in sport was operationalized as a multidimensional construct (i.e., scope of responsibilities, role behaviors, role evaluation, and role consequences) potentially manifested in each of two contexts, offense and defense. Consistent with hypotheses, ambiguity in terms of the scope of offensive role responsibilities predicted cognitive A-state (R 2 = .19). However, contrary to hypotheses, offensive role-consequences ambiguity also predicted somatic A-state (R 2 = .09). Results highlight the importance of using a multidimensional approach to investigate role ambiguity in sport and are discussed in terms of both theory advancement and possible interventions.

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Role Ambiguity in Sport Teams

Mark A. Eys, Albert V. Carron, Mark R. Beauchamp, and Steven R. Bray

The general purpose of the present study was to examine the nature of role ambiguity in sport teams and to explore the construct validity of the operational definition of role ambiguity developed by Beauchamp, Bray, Eys, and Carron (2002). Role ambiguity was operationalized as a multidimensional construct (Scope of Responsibilities, Behavioral Responsibilities, Evaluation of Performance, and Consequences of Not Fulfilling Responsibilities) that occurs in two contexts, offense and defense. Consistent with the a priori hypothesis, perceptions of role ambiguity exhibited some degree of within-group consistency and group-level variability, but most of the variance in role ambiguity was seen at the individual level. Also, perceptions of role ambiguity decreased from early to late season. Finally, veteran athletes experienced less role ambiguity than first-year athletes at the beginning of the season, but not at the end. Implications of the findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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The Development and Psychometric Properties of the Multidimensional Assessment of Teamwork in Sport

Desmond McEwan, Bruno D. Zumbo, Mark A. Eys, and Mark R. Beauchamp

The purpose of this research was to develop a questionnaire to assess the multidimensional construct of teamwork in sport and to examine various aspects of validity related to that instrument. A preliminary questionnaire was first created, and feedback on this instrument was then obtained from a sample of team-sport athletes (n = 30) and experts in sport psychology (n = 8). A modified version of the questionnaire was then completed by 607 athletes from 48 teams, and 5 multilevel confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to examine the structural properties of data derived from this instrument. Evidence of adequate model-data fit along with measurement reliability was obtained for each of the 5 models. Taken together, the results from this research provide support for the content, substantive, and structural aspects of construct validity for data derived from the 66-item Multidimensional Assessment of Teamwork in Sport.

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Perceptions of Cohesion by Youth Sport Participants

Mark A. Eys, Todd M. Loughead, Steven R. Bray, and Albert V. Carron

Cohesion is an important small group variable within sport. However, the conceptualization and examination of cohesion have predominately been oriented toward adult populations. The purpose of the current study was to garner an understanding of what cohesion means to youth sport participants. Fifty-six team sport athletes (Mage = 15.63 ± 1.01 years) from two secondary schools took part in focus groups designed to understand participants’ perceptions of (a) the definition of cohesion and indicators of cohesive and noncohesive groups and (b) methods used to attempt to develop cohesion in their groups. Overall, the responses to part (a) yielded 10 categories reflecting a group’s task cohesion and 7 categories reflecting a group’s social cohesion. Finally, participants highlighted eight general methods through which their groups developed cohesion. Results are discussed in relation to a current conceptualization of cohesion and affiliation considerations within a youth sport environment.

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Item Wording and Internal Consistency of a Measure of Cohesion: The Group Environment Questionnaire

Mark A. Eys, Albert V. Carron, Steven R. Bray, and Lawrence R. Brawley

A common practice for counteracting response acquiescence in psychological measures has been to employ both negatively and positively worded items. However, previous research has highlighted that the reliability of measures can be affected by this practice (Spector, 1992). The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect that the presence of negatively worded items has on the internal reliability of the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ). Two samples (N = 276) were utilized, and participants were asked to complete the GEQ (original and revised) on separate occasions. Results demonstrated that the revised questionnaire (containing all positively worded items) had significantly higher Cronbach a values for three of the four dimensions of the GEQ. Implications, alternatives, and future directions are discussed.

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Experiences of Burnout Among Adolescent Female Gymnasts: Three Case Studies

Nicole G. Dubuc, Robert J. Schinke, Mark A. Eys, Randy Battochio, and Leonard Zaichkowsky

Within the current study, the process of adolescent burnout is considered in relation to perceived contributors, symptoms, consequences, and subsequently, effective and ineffective coping strategies. Through case studies, the researchers sought the burnout experiences of three competitive female gymnasts. Participants were selected based on scores obtained from Raedeke and Smith’s (2001) Athlete Burnout Questionnaire. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the process, athlete data were considered in tandem with interviews from at least one parent and one coach. Transcribed data were segmented into meaning units, coded into a hierarchy of themes and verified by each respondent. Despite common trends among the participants, differences were also found in relation to symptoms, contributors, and the progression of the condition. Implications are provided for the athlete/parent/coach triad and also for sport psychologists.

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Understanding Physical Activity through the Experiences of Adolescent Girls

Hope E. Yungblut, Robert J. Schinke, Kerry R. McGannon, and Mark A. Eys

Researchers have found that female youths are particularly vulnerable to withdrawing from sport and physical activity programs in early adolescence (see Active Healthy Kids Canada, 2010). However, there is an absence of a comprehensive, emic description of how female adolescents experience physical activity. Open-ended, semi-structured interviews were conducted individually with 15 early adolescent females (12–14 years old) and 20 middle and late adolescent females (15–18years old). Co-participants in the mid to late adolescent cohort provided retrospective accounts of their early adolescent experiences along with insight on how their experiences shaped their current participation. The girls’ voices were brought to the forefront through composite vignettes that highlight their physical activity experiences, integrating the words used by the co-participants. Results are discussed in relation to physical activity programming for adolescent females and why a qualitative approach is useful in contributing to gender-specific physical activity programming.