Locus of control and coping strategies in female mass sport groups

Associate Professor, PhD E.A. Bragina1
Associate Professor, PhD I.V. Skripichnikova1
Associate Professor, PhD I.A. Semikasheva1
1Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after I.N. Ulyanov, Ulyanovsk

Keywords: coping behavior, coping strategies, locus of control, female athletes

Background. Lately many researchers have been increasingly sensitive to coping behavior ranked among the key competitive assets for success in sports [1, 2]. Coping behavior may be interpreted as the individual ability to face different life challenges and stand under and adapt to pressures. A coping strategy is geared to change the situation so as to address the key problem on the one hand, and balance/ control/ harmonize the individual emotionality on the other hand. Many studies give a special priority to the locus of control viewed as the core component of a coping behavior that makes it possible to select and apply the most efficient coping strategy when necessary [4]. Locus of control (LC) may be defined as the individual ability to focus the internal (internal LC, internality) or external (external LC, externality) on the individual successes/ failures.

We believe that modern sports are increasingly demanding to the individual physical and mental qualities and skills and particularly the abilities to stand under competitive pressures i.e. mobilize and develop rather specific individual assets that are seldom if ever required in everyday life [2]. As was mentioned by A.T. Puni back in 1980, habitual intensive sport practices develop special mental qualities in athletes that “are highly relevant” in many other aspects of life even upon retirement from sports [6]. It should be mentioned, however, that the issues of how the sport-specific stress tolerance may transform into the personality coping strategies applicable in everyday life still need to be explored.

Objective of the study was to check the assumption that a sporting activity facilitates individual coping strategies and internal locus of control and helps female athletes cope with difficult off-sport situations.

Methods and structure of the study. The coping strategies and individual locus of control were tested and analyzed in the 18-21 year-old Sporting Group (SG, n=26) Class I-III female athletes from the Physical Education Department versus Non-sporting Group (NSG, n=32) of their non-/ occasionally-sporting peers from the Pedagogy and Psychology Department. The coping strategies were rated in both groups by the Ways of coping questionnaire (Folkman & Lazarus, WCQ) adapted by E.V. Bityutskaya [5]. The WCQ method was selected for the study purposes as it makes an emphasis on the coping behaviors in the difficult life situations beyond the trainings and competitions and helps identify one or a few coping strategies including: planned problem-solving (PPS); claiming social support (CSS); positive revision (PR); confrontation (CF); self-control (SC); self-blaming (SB) (taking responsibility); fantasy generation (F); distancing (D); and avoidance (A). It should be noted that the planned problem-solving, claiming social support and confrontation coping strategies give a priority to the problem solving coping behavior; whilst positive revision and self-control are centered on the emotional coping; and fantasy generation, distancing and avoidance strategies are dominated by defensive/ alienation/ distraction behaviors in difficult situations, with avoidance interpreted as an active response strategy.

The coping strategies were rated in both groups by the Ways of coping questionnaire (Folkman & Lazarus, WCQ) adapted by E.V. Bityutskaya; and the individual locus of control (LC) was tested by the J. Rotter Locus of Control Scale adapted by E.F. Bazhin, E.A. Golynkina and A.M. Etkind [8]. This method rates total internality (TI); success focused internality (SI); failure focused internality (FI); and family/ career/ communication/ health focused internalities (FamI, CarI, ComI, HI, respectively).

Study findings and discussion. We found significant intergroup differences by Mann-Whitney U-criterion in the claiming social support, confrontation and avoidance coping strategies, with all these strategies dominating in the Sporting Group (see Table 1); and with the finding compliant with the prior results obtained by some other methods and adapted versions of the classical Ways of coping questionnaire (Folkman & Lazarus, WCQ) [1, 2].

Table1. U-criterion for the coping strategies found by the WCQ method (*p≤0,05, **p≤0,01)

Test rates

PPS

CSS

PR

CF

SC

SB

F

D

A

U-criterion

330

280*

337

188**

 294*

327

399

356

229**

Mean arithmetic SG/ NSG

2,01/ 1,776

1,906/1,529

2,030/ 1,82

1,818/ 1,335

1,802 /1,606

1,601/ 1,544

1,653/ 1,633

1092/ 1,020

1,408/1,725

Correlation analysis of the Sporting Group test rates found a significant correlation between planned problem-solving and claiming social support / positive revision / confrontation (with the Spearman’s r= 0.56, 0.52 and 0.42, respectively); plus between fantasy generation and avoidance coping strategies (r=0.52). The Non-sporting Group was tested with significant correlations between claiming social support and planned problem-solving / confrontation / distancing (with the Spearman’s r= 0.365, 0.623 and 0.488, respectively); and with fantasy generation and avoidance coping strategies supplemented by self-blaming strategy: see Figure 1 hereunder.

Therefore, we found the Sporting Group coping strategies being dominated by the planned problem-solving supplemented, when required by a specific difficult situation, by confrontation / claiming social support (confrontation and claiming social support), plus emotions-driven positive revision. The Non-sporting Group was found to give preference to the claiming social support combined mostly with the problem-solving coping behavior. There are reasons to assume that the distancing behaviors comprise the core emotional self-control mechanism as verified by the low group self-control rate.

Figure 1. Correlations of coping strategies in the Sporting Group (SG) versus Non-sporting Group (NSG)

The locus of control tests found no extreme externalities and internalities in any of the groups, with the only exclusion for a very high HI (health internality) in the Sporting Group. The locus of control statistics analysis showed significantly higher total/ partial success/ failure/ health internality rates in the Sporting Group, with the Mann-Whitney U-criterion = 296, 308, 282 and 219 (p≤ 0.05) for total internality, success focused internality, failure focused internality and health internality (p≤ 0.01), respectively. Career internality (CarI) rate, however, was found significantly higher in the Non-sporting Group (U-criterion = 256, p≤0.01). Given in Table 2 hereunder is the correlation analysis of the test rates generated by the Ways of coping questionnaire and Locus of Control Scale (significant correlations only).

The significant positive correlations between the total internality / success focused internality / failure focused internality rates and the planned problem-solving / claiming social support / confrontation coping strategies, plus the significant positive correlation of health internality with planned problem-solving in the Sporting Group – give grounds to consider internality as a valuable personality asset of female athletes that motivates them for the problem-solving coping behaviors, particularly in the health issues. The significant correlation between the failure focused internality and self-control may mean that the practical experience of competitive failures help the athletes develop efficient failure internalities with the relevant self-control skills.

The Non-sporting Group was tested with significant correlations between success focused internality and planned problem-solving; and communication internality and claiming social support – that may be interpreted as follows: confidence in own informal communication skills helps claim support from the surrounding. This finding is true for the Sporting Group as well as verified by the significant correlation of the above test rates; plus supported by the other study reports showing correlation of the communication internality with the emotional intelligence rates [7].  

Table 2. Spearman rates generated by the Ways of coping questionnaire and Locus of Control Scale, * p≤0.05,**p≤0.01)

Coping  strategies

LC rates

Groups   

TI

SI

FI

CarI

ComI

HI

PPS

SG 

.494*

 .642**

.422*

 

 

.632**

NSG  

 

.532**

 

 

 

 

CSS

SG 

.456*

.438*

.398*

 

.392*

 

NSG  

-.475*

 

 

-.444*

.506**

-.49**

CF

SG 

.422*

.438*

 

 

 

 

NSG  

-.440*

 

 

 

 .504**

 

PR

SG 

.398*

 

 

 

 

 

SC

SG 

 

 

.392*

 

 

 

F

NSG

 

 

 

-.387*

 

 

D

NSG

 

 

 

-.424*

 

 

A

SG 

-.392*

 

-.404*

 

 

 

NSG

 

 

 

-.446*

 

 

Furthermore, the Non-sporting Group was tested with the negative significant correlations of the total internality with claiming social support / confrontation; the higher career internality rates; and many significant negative correlations of the career internality with claiming social support / fantasy generation / distancing / avoidance – see Table 2. The available study reports on the subject often underline a positive correlation between the total internality and social contacts/ support claiming coping strategies [e.g. 5]. It may be assumed that both the total and partial internalities (career internality in this case) and self-efficiency/ self-confidence driven coping resource stimulate the individual self-reliance and, hence, largely hamper the impulses to claim social support/ understanding in difficult situations. It is not improbable that this finding is age-specific in our case, i.e. needs to be verified by further empirical studies.

Conclusion. The study found that the sporting females are significantly more determined than their non-sporting peers in active (both problem-solving and emotional) coping strategies, plus tested with the higher total/ success/ failure/ health internality rates. We also found significant positive correlations of the above internality rates with mostly the active problem-solving coping strategies. The study findings give grounds to believe that the total and partial internalities may be considered among the valuable individual coping assets formed by competitive practices and widely applied in difficult off-sport life situations. The finding needs to be verified by a special study of the sporting versus non-sporting male samples.

References

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Corresponding author: bragina24@mail.ru

Abstract

The study was designed to check, among other things, the assumption that a sporting activity facilitates the individual coping strategies and internal locus of control viewed as the key individual coping asset. The study analyzed the coping strategies and individual locus of control in the sporting versus non-/ occasionally-sporting 18-21 years old females. The coping strategies were rated in the both groups by the Ways of coping questionnaire (Folkman & Lazarus, WCQ) adapted by E.V. Bityutskaya; and the individual locus of control (LC) was tested by the J. Rotter Locus of Control Scale (LCS) adapted by E.F. Bazhin, E.A. Golynkina and A.M. Etkind. The sporting group was tested with the significantly higher total internality, success/ failure/ health related internalities and the social support/ confrontation/ self-control driven coping strategies. In addition, the sporting group was tested with the significant correlations between the problem-solving and emotional coping strategies on the one hand and the success/ failure/ health focused internalities on the other hand.