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Thelma S. Horn
Perceptions of physical competence and intrinsic joy have been identified as 2 of the primary correlates and even predictors of physical activity and sedentary behavior for individuals of all ages. Developmental theories of competence motivation suggest that such self-perceptions may have their origins in the early childhood years and are formed on the basis of a whole range of social and environmental factors. However, it is likely that the primary influence during this early time period may be the attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors of significant adults with whom the child interacts. This paper identifies and discusses 3 ways in which important adults can exert an influence on young children’s perceptions of competence and intrinsic joy and, correspondingly, on their levels of physical activity and sedentary behavior. The paper ends with some recommendations for future research.
Thelma Sternberg Horn
Researchers investigating expectancy effects in academic as well as motor skills contexts have consistently found differences in instructors' behavior towards high-and low-expectancy children. However, certain methodological problems which have recently been identified may limit the interpretation of such differential behaviors as evidence of instructor bias. The present study was conducted to examine expectancy effects in the athletic setting by directly testing three of these methodological issues. The instructional behaviors of five junior high softball coaches were recorded separately for practice and game situations using the Coaching Behavior Assessment System. Multivariate statistical analyses of coaching behaviors revealed that low-expectancy athletes received more praise for success and more general and corrective instruction in game situations than did high-expectancy athletes. Although these results demonstrate the existence of differential patterns of coaching behavior, the direction of the obtained differences does not support the predictions implicit in the self-fulfilling prophecy model. In addition, results indicated that the methodological issues under consideration do influence the accuracy with which coaching behavior is assessed and interpreted.
Thelma S. Horn
Developmentally based theories in the social-psychology field emphasize the important role that significant adults play in relation to children’s psychosocial health and well-being. In particular, these theories suggest that the responses adults provide to children in reaction to their performance attempts may affect the children’s own perceptions and evaluations of their competencies, as well as their overall self-worth. In the youth sport setting, coaches may be the main providers of performance-related feedback. The purpose of this paper was to use current research and theory to identify and discuss 4 dimensions of coaches’ feedback that are relevant to the growth and development of young athletes: content, delivery, degree of growth orientation, and extent of stereotyping. The paper ends with recommendations for future research on the topic, with emphasis on examining developmental transitions and why coaches give feedback in particular ways.
Thelma S. Horn
This paper is based on a Senior Scholar presentation delivered at the 2020 annual meeting of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. The paper begins with a summary of the research work completed by the author and coinvestigators in regard to the influences that significant others (parents, peers, and coaches) exert on the psychosocial well-being of individuals in sport and physical activity. In each of these three areas, illustrative research studies are summarized in a predominantly chronological order with a commentary at the end of each section that identifies unanswered questions and suggests future research directions. In the second section, four particular lessons learned by the author over the course of a scholarly career are identified and explained.
Thelma S. Horn
One of the primary dilemmas surrounding the topic of early sport specialization is whether the practice develops talent or creates long-term psychological problems. The purpose of this paper is to discuss this issue using psychosocial and developmental frameworks. This review begins with an overview of several developmentallybased constructs (e.g., biological maturation, perceived competence, body image, self-identity, motivational orientation) that are relevant to the sport domain. These developmental progressions are then used to address some potential implications for children who begin intensive training and competition at an early age. Next, some socioenvironmental factors are explored, with specific links made to the early sport specialization process. Finally, the paper ends with four recommendations for future research on the topic.
Anthony J. Amorose and Thelma S. Horn
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among athletes’ intrinsic motivation (IM), gender, scholarship status, perceptions of the number of their teammates receiving scholarships, and perceptions of their coaches’ behavior. Male and female college athletes (N = 386) from a variety of Division I sports completed a series of paper-and-pencil questionnaires. Multivariate analyses revealed that (a) scholarship athletes reported higher levels of IM than did nonscholarship athletes, (b) male athletes reported higher IM than did female athletes, and (c) perceived coaching behaviors were related to athletes’ IM. Specifically, athletes with higher IM perceived their coaches to exhibit a leadership style that emphasized training and instruction and was high in democratic behavior and low in autocratic behavior. In addition, athletes with higher levels of IM perceived that their coaches provided high frequencies of positive and informationally based feedback and low frequencies of punishment-oriented and ignoring behaviors. Results are discussed in terms of cognitive evaluation theory.
Joanne Butt, Robert Weinberg, and Thelma Horn
The purposes of the present investigation were twofold: (a) to investigate the fluctuations of anxiety and self-confidence throughout competition by measuring these variables retrospectively before, during, and after competition and (b) to investigate the relationship between the intensity and directional interpretation of anxiety and perceived performance across competition. Field hockey players (N = 62) completed the modified Mental Readiness Form-Likert (MRF-2) within 30 minutes after competition using the method of retrospective recall. Results indicated significant fluctuations across competition for cognitive anxiety intensity and direction, somatic anxiety intensity, and self-confidence intensity. Results also revealed that the strongest predictors of performance across both halves were self-confidence intensity and direction and cognitive anxiety direction. These findings should have important implications for practitioners and sport psychologists because anxiety measurement and confidence are critical parts of most psychological skills training programs.
Daniel Gould, Thelma Horn, and Janie Spreemann
The present study was designed to examine precompetitive and competitive anxiety patterns of junior elite wrestlers. Specifically, 458 wrestlers participating in the United States Wrestling Federation Junior National Championships rated their typical levels of anxiety at various times prior to and during competitions. The relationships between success, years wrestling experience, age, trait anxiety, and precompetitive and competitive state anxiety were examined using both univariate and regression analyses. Contrary to previous studies, no significant differences were found in precompetitive and competitive anxiety patterns between successful and less successful as well as more and less experienced wrestlers. In addition, age was not found to be related to either precompetitive or competitive anxiety. Consistent with the previous research, however, significant anxiety differences were found between high as compared to low trait anxious wrestlers. Descriptive statistics summarized across the entire sample also revealed that the wrestlers became nervous or worried in 67% of all their matches and that their nervousness sometimes helped and sometimes hindered their performance. The results were discussed in terms of individual differences, situation-specific responses to stress, and the need to employ multidimensional measures of anxiety. It was also suggested that researchers must be cautious in generalizing the findings of exploratory studies, especially when small, nonrandomized samples have been employed.
Daniel Gould, Thelma Horn, and Janie Spreemann
This investigation was designed to assess perceived sources of stress in junior elite wrestlers. Wrestlers (N = 458) participating in the United States Wrestling Federation Junior National Championships rated the frequency with which they typically experienced 33 sources of stress before competitions. Descriptive statistics revealed that performing up to one's ability, improving on one's last performance, participating in championship meets, not wrestling well, and losing were identified as major sources of stress. Factor analytic results showed that the 33 sources of stress loaded on three factors, including: fear of failure-feelings of inadequacy, external control-guilt, and social evaluation. Multiple regression analyses revealed that both wrestler trait anxiety and years of wrestling experience were significant predictors of the fear of failure-feelings of inadequacy factor, while trait anxiety also was found to be a significant predictor of the social evaluation factor. Although both the most and least frequently experienced sources of stress were identified in this investigation, it was concluded that large individual differences existed in perceived sources of stress. In addition, the need for replicating and extending these findings with other samples was emphasized.