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Rémi Radel, Philippe Sarrazin and Luc Pelletier

The aim of this study was to examine whether motivational orientations for a new motor task could be triggered by unconscious determinants. Participants were primed with subliminal words depicting an autonomous, a neutral, or a controlled motivation during an initial unrelated task, followed by working on an unknown motor task. Behavioral, physiological, and self-reported indicators of motivation for this task were assessed. Overall, results indicated a significant impact of the priming condition on all these indicators; whereas the priming of autonomous motivation led to positive outcomes, the priming of controlled motivation led to negatives outcomes when compared with the neutral condition. Implications regarding the priming of unconscious determinants of motivation for sport and exercise are discussed.

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Boris Cheval, Philippe Sarrazin, Luc Pelletier and Malte Friese

Background:

Promoting regular physical activity (PA) and lessening sedentary behaviors (SB) constitute a public health priority. Recent evidence suggests that PA and SB are not only related to reflective processes (eg, behavioral intentions), but also to impulsive approach-avoidance tendencies (IAAT). This study aims to test the effect of a computerized IAAT intervention on an exercise task.

Methods:

Participants (N = 115) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions, in which they were either trained to approach PA and avoid SB (ApPA-AvSB condition), to approach SB and avoid PA (ApSB-AvPA condition), or to approach and avoid PA and SB equally often (active control condition). The main outcome variable was the time spent carrying out a moderate intensity exercise task.

Results:

IAAT toward PA decreased in the ApSB-AvPA condition, tended to increase in the ApPA-AvSB condition, and remained stable in the control condition. Most importantly, the ApPA-AvSB manipulation led to more time spent exercising than the ApSB-AvPA condition. Sensitivity analyses excluding individuals who were highly physically active further revealed that participants in the ApPA-AvSB condition spent more time exercising than participants in the control condition.

Conclusions:

These findings provide preliminary evidence that a single intervention session can successfully change impulsive approach tendencies toward PA and can increase the time devoted to an exercise task, especially among individuals who need to be more physically active. Potential implications for health behavior theories and behavior change interventions are outlined.

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Aïna Chalabaev, Philippe Sarrazin, Jeff Stone and François Cury

This research investigated stereotype threat effects on women’s performance in sports and examined the mediation of this effect by achievement goals. The influence of two stereotypes—relative to the poor athletic ability and the poor technical soccer ability of women—were studied. Fifty-one female soccer players were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, introducing the task as diagnostic of athletic ability, technical soccer ability, or sports psychology. Next, they filled out a questionnaire measuring achievement goals and performed a soccer dribbling task. Results showed that compared with the control condition, females’ performance significantly decreased in the athletic ability condition and tended to decrease in the technical soccer ability condition. Moreover, participants endorsed a performance-avoidance (relative to performance-approach) goal when the stereotypes were activated. However, this goal endorsement was not related to performance. The implications of these results for understanding the role of stereotypes in gender inequalities in sports are discussed.

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Grégoire Bosselut, Jean-Philippe Heuzé, Mark A. Eys, Paul Fontayne and Philippe Sarrazin

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between athletes’ perceptions of role ambiguity and two theoretically derived dimensions of coaching competency (i.e., game strategy and technique competencies). A total of 243 players from 26 teams representing various interdependent sports completed French versions of the Role Ambiguity Scale and the Coaching Competency Scale. Multilevel analyses supported the existence of relationships between the four dimensions of role ambiguity and the two dimensions of coaching competency at both individual and team levels. When the levels were considered jointly, athletes perceiving greater ambiguity in their role in both offensive and defensive contexts were more critical of their coach’s capacities to lead their team during competitions and to diagnose or formulate instructions during training sessions. The results also indicated that the dimension of scope of responsibilities was the main contributor to the relationship with coaching competency at an individual level, whereas role evaluation was the main contributor to this relationship at a group level. Findings are discussed in relation to the role episode model, the role ambiguity dimensions involved in the relationships according to the level of analysis considered, and the salience of ambiguity perceptions in the offensive context.

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Julien P. Chanal, Herbert W. Marsh, Philippe G. Sarrazin and Julien E. Bois

In sport/exercise contexts, individuals use the performances of others to evaluate their own competence. In big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE) in educational settings, academic self-concept is positively predicted by one’s academic achievement but negatively predicted by the average achievement of others in one’s school or class. Participation in programs for academically gifted students leads to lower self-concept. In apparently the first test of the BFLPE in the physical domain, multilevel models of responses by 405 participants in 20 gymnastics classes supported these predictions. Gymnastics self-concept was positively predicted by individual gymnastics skills, but negatively predicted by class-average gymnastics skills. The size of this negative BFLPE grew larger during the 10-week training program (as participants had more exposure to the relative performances of others in their class), but did not vary as a function of gender, age, or initial gymnastics skills.

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Julien E. Bois, Philippe G. Sarrazin, Julien Southon and Julie C. S. Boiché

This study investigated the psychological characteristics of professional golfers and their relation to golf performance. The aims of the study were (a) to provide descriptive data on professional golfers, (b) to test possible differences between successful and unsuccessful players and (c) to estimate whether psychological characteristics could predict golf performance. The data were collected from 41 male professional golfers the day before an official competition. Results revealed that players who made the cut were characterized by higher scores on performance-approach goal, cognitive and somatic anxiety, relaxation strategies, attentional control, emotional control and lower score on performance-avoidance goal. Subsequently, a multiple regression analysis revealed that higher cognitive anxiety, more frequent use of relaxation strategies and emotional control strategies were associated with better player’s ranking at the end of the competition.

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Nathan Smith, Damien Tessier, Yannis Tzioumakis, Eleanor Quested, Paul Appleton, Philippe Sarrazin, Athanasios Papaioannou and Joan L. Duda

This article outlines the development and validation of the Multidimensional Motivational Climate Observation System (MMCOS). Drawing from an integration of the dimensions of the social environment emphasized within achievement goal theory and self-determination theory (as assumed within Duda’s [2013] conceptualization of “empowering” and “disempowering” climates), the MMCOS was developed to enable an objective assessment of the coach-created motivational environment in sport. Study 1 supported the initial validity and reliability of the newly developed observation system. Study 2 further examined the interobserver reliability and factorial structure of the MMCOS. Study 3 explored the predictive validity of the observational system in relation to athletes’ reported basic psychological need satisfaction. Overall, the results of these studies provide preliminary support for the inter- and intraobserver reliability, as well as factorial and predictive validity of the MMCOS. Suggestions for the use of this observational system in future research in sport are provided.