The dissatisfaction with the existing scientific paradigm of social psychology, and its adoption in sport psychology, is discussed. Although many metapsychological issues are raised, attention focuses on the inadequacies of laboratory experimental research. As a partial solution in the development of a new paradigm, it is suggested that sport psychologists trade their smocks for “jocks,” turning their efforts to multivariate, long-term field research.
Two sport psychologies have emerged—academic sport psychology and practicing sport psychology—which presently are on diverging courses because of an unjustified belief in orthodox science as the primary source of knowledge. To support this contention, the basic assumptions of orthodox science are examined, with the doctrine of objectivity singled out as fallacious and especially harmful in that it attempts to remove the person from the process of knowing. Polanyi’s (1958) heuristic philosophy of knowledge, which places humans in the center of the process of knowing, is recommended as an alternative approach for the study of human behavior. This alternative approach reveals the inadequacy of the laboratory experiment which has been invented primarily to pursue the doctrine of objectivity. Next, the Degrees of Knowledge theory is proposed as an alternative way to view the reliability of knowledge. This view, within the heuristic paradigm, places great significance on experiential knowledge. Recommendations for an improved science of human behavior emphasizes the idiographic approach, introspective methods, and field studies. Also, recommendations are made for a more progressive approach to applied research, and the significance of knowledge synthesis from applied research. The two sport psychologies will converge when orthodox science and the doctrine of objectivity are replaced with the heuristic paradigm and its emphasis on experiential knowledge.
Damon Burton and Rainer Martens
Previous research concludes that athletes drop out of sport because of conflicts of interest, but these findings cannot clarify whether dropouts find other activities more appealing or turn to new activities because sport fails to meet their achievement needs. This investigation assessed dropout motives by testing explanations derived from Nicholls' (1984) motivational model and comparing them with traditional dropout questionnaire responses. Wrestling coaches, participants, participants' parents, dropouts, and dropouts' parents completed a 23-item dropout inventory; and participants and dropouts responded to questionnaire items testing Nicholls' task choice predictions. Dropout inventory responses confirmed previous conflict-of-interest findings. In data testing Nicholls' model, participants demonstrated significantly higher perceived ability, better won-loss records, more functional attributions, and more positive expectancies, and valued wrestling success more than dropouts did. These findings supported predictions that wrestlers change activities when continued participation threatens their perceived ability. Disagreement between the conclusions concerning why young athletes drop out of wrestling drawn from the conflict-of-interest explanation and from Nicholls' perceived ability model are discussed, and suggestions for reducing dropout rates are offered.
Julie A. Simon and Rainer Martens
Comparisons of pre-event state anxiety (A-state) were made among 9- to 14-year-old boys participating in required school activities (classroom tests and physical education class), nonrequired nonsport activities (band solos and band group competition), and nonschool sports (baseball, basketball, football, gymnastics, hockey, swimming, and wrestling). Participants in all three groups were significantly different from each other with those in the nonrequired nonsport activities manifesting the highest A-state levels followed by boys in the nonschool sports and then those in the required school activities. Comparisons across sports revealed higher A-states among individual sport participants than team sport participants. No differences were found between contact and noncontact sport participants, but a significant interaction showed that the highest A-states were reported among those in individual-contact sports and the lowest in team-contact sports. The differences in A-state levels among the activities studied were discussed in terms of the evaluation potential existing in each activity.
Mary Ann Carmack and Rainer Martens
The purpose of the study was to obtain descriptive information from runners concerning various aspects of their running, leading to the development and validation of a scale to measure Commitment to Running (CR) and to examine changes in state of mind during different segments ofa run. The subjects, 250 male and 65 female runners of varying levels of ability and experience, responded to a questionnaire which requested information regarding demographics, attitudes toward running, mental states during a run, and perceived outcomes of running. A 12-item Commitment to Running Scale was included in the questionnaire, and substantial support for its reliability and concurrent validity was provided. Significant differences were found on a number of variables which were expected to predict CR—specifically, length of run, discomfort experienced when a run is missed, and perceived addiction to running. Regression analysis indicated that perceived addiction, state of mind, and length of run are significant predictors of CR. The findings also support many of the popular notions regarding the concept of “positive addiction” to running and changes in mental state which occur during a run.