Individual typological features of athletes from Buryatia

Individual typological features of athletes from Buryatia


Corresponding member of Russian Academy of Education, Dr.Hab.,Professor S.V. Kalmykov
Dr.Hab., Associate Professor A.S. Sagaleyev
PhD A.S. Tsybikov
Buryat State University, Ulan-Ude

Keywords: individual typology, athletes from Buryatia, Cattell’s personality factors test, Tibetan constitutional type, “wind”, “bile”, “phlegm”, gender, national/ ethnic factor.


It is a matter of common knowledge that the typological individuality of an athlete may be described by a set of psychological and physiological personality qualities that largely determine his/her competitive potential. These qualities are formed under influences or multiple factors and, probably, the living environment in general. However, there are a few factors that may be singled out as the key ones, including: genetic (i.e. hereditary, biologic inborn), gender and social factors, including the national/ ethnic factor. Effects of these key factors on the psycho-physiological traits of athletes are ranked among the high priorities by the modern sport science [1].

We believe that highly promising among the athlete’s body individuality typing methods is the oriental body typology classification based on a variety of psycho-physiological factors [4]. According to the Tibetan medicinal canons, a constitutional type is considered an inborn, genetically inherited feature that may somewhat change with age or under influence of the individual lifestyles, nutritional habits and/or environments. Every human being, according to the Tibetan canons, is classified with one of the following seven body constitution types: “clean” types referred to as the wind, bile and phlegm; “double mix” types of wind-bile, wind-phlegm and bile-phlegm; and the “triple mix” type of wind-bile-phlegm. Each of the above types may be identified by specific physiological attributes, psychological factors and constitutional predispositions [4, 2].

Objective of the study was to explore the effects of the gender and national/ ethnic factor on the major psycho-physiological attributes of the athletes hailing from Buryatia. In addition, special emphasis in the study was made on the correlations of the athletes’ psycho-physiological attributes with their qualification rates and sport specializations.

Methods and structure of the study

Subject to the questioning survey and psycho-physiological tests under the study were 210 athletes from Buryatia aged 18-25 years and going in for competitive sports on a regular basis at sport clubs and schools of Ulan-Ude city. The tests were designed based on two different survey methods, namely: (1) the Cattell's 16 Personality Factors Test to rate the key personality factors of each athlete [4]; and (2) the questioning survey to classify the respondents with the psycho-physiological constitutional types in the Tibetan wind-bile-phlegm system [2, 3]. The test data were processed and analyzed using a standard Statistica software toolkit.

Study results and discussion

The study data on the averaged personality structure of the athletes from Buryatia, with account of the confidence intervals, may be interpreted as follows: dominant self-assuring; conscientious; courageous; suspicious (driven by own opinion); highly self-controlled; unsentimental (stern, self-confident); conservative (sticking to traditions). The subject athletes’ classification by the Tibetan canons ended up with the following types identified: 86 people (41%) were assigned with the wind-bile-phlegm type; 67 people (31.9%) were assigned with the wind-bile type; 7 people (3.3%) were assigned with the wind-phlegm type; 11 people (5.2%) were classified with the wind type; 17 people (8.1%) were assigned with the phlegm type; and 10 people (4.7%) were found to belong to bile type. Therefore, dominating in the sample (73% of the total) were the Buryat athletes classified with the triple-mix and double-mix bile-phlegm types. Other types were much seldom in the sample.

Gender and national/ ethnic factor: The tests found notably higher rates of emotional balance (t=3.80; p<0.01) and diplomacy (t=2.92; p=0.01) in the young men (nm=134) versus that of the young women (nw=76). However, the young women were tested higher in the following personality attributes: thinking (t=-2.86; p<0.01), sensitivity (t=-3.77; p<0.01), anxiety (t=-4.06; p<0.01), and emotional tension (t=-3.94; p<0.01). Furthermore, the gender factor showed some connection with the Tibetan psycho-physiological wind-bile-phlegm types, since a significant difference was found for the wind type, with the young women showing a higher wind quality versus that of the young men (t=-5.09; p<0.01).

Having analyzed the correlation of nationality factor with the tested personality factors, we found significant differences for the following factors: dominance (t=2.21; p<0.05); social courage (t=2.01; p<0.05) and non-conformism (t=2.72; p<0.01), with the Russian athletes showing the higher values of the above factors than the Buryat athletes. It may be pertinent to note in this context, that the Buryat athletes showed in the tests the same specific personality factor that was mentioned by other researchers (V.G. Krys’ko, 2008, p. 83-84) and may be considered their national/ ethnic attribute – that is the conformity factor that means the person’s dependence on the group i.e. the person being prone to adjust his/her behaviour to the group canons however foreign or unusual they may seem (as per Raymond Cattell).

Our analysis of the combined effects of the gender and national attributes showed a dominance of the wind regulator system in the female Russian athletes versus that of the female Buryat athletes (LSD method: p=0.05). These gender- and nationality-specific psycho-physiological factors of the Buryat athletes should be duly taken into account by coaches when designing the athletic training and competitive systems.

Sport qualification: The tests found some differences in the athletes having different sport qualifications in the following personality factors (as verified by the data dispersion analysis with p<0.05): anxiety, radicalism and emotional balance. It should be noted that the emotional balance test rates of the middle-ranking athletes were lower than that of the low- and high-ranking ones (by the Tukey F-criterion with p<0.05). This difference may be due to the relatively high anxiety level in this group (by the Tukey F-criterion with p<0.05). The same may apply to the low radicalism rates found by the tests in the low-ranking athletes.

 Furthermore, we made a comparative analysis of the body regulation systems (by the wind-bile-phlegm types) for different sport qualification groups. The expressivity rates of every bodily regulation system in the high-ranking athletes (Masters of Sport and International Class Masters of Sport) were lower than in the other groups (as verified by the dispersion analysis and the Scheffe's test with p<0.05). It should be noted that dominating in the high-ranking athletes was the bile type, whilst the middle-ranking athletes (Class I and Candidates for Master of Sport) showed a dominance of the phlegm type.

Having made a test data correlation analysis, we found an indistinct direct correlation between the competitive success rate planned by the athlete (scored in points with an eye for the top competitions) and his/her social courage as per the Cattell’s tests (Rп=0.27; p=0.02; N=131). The similar correlation was found between the competitive success rates of the young men and their radicalism factors (freethinking, proneness to experiments and analytical thinking): Rп=0.24; p=0.,02; N=169. The correlations were confirmed by matching the average “goal” rates with the junior competitive success rates by different levels (low, middle, high) of the social courage and radicalism with the statistical meaningfulness rate of p=0.05.

Sport specialization: The test data dispersion analysis found the sport specialization being in meaningful correlation with the thinking factor (F=3.08; p=0.018; see Figure 4). It should be noted that the Cattell’s thinking factor is irrelevant to the level of intelligence but rather designed to rate the thinking immediacy and the general level of verbal culture and erudition. The track and field athletes and archers from Buryatia, for instance, showed notably higher thinking rates than the freestyle wrestlers and the volleyball and football players (LSD method with p<0.05).

Furthermore, the study found the sport speciality being in correlation with the body regulation systems (F=2.14; p=0.014). Significant differences were found for the wind (F=5.02; p=0.0008) and phlegm (F=2.64; p=0.04) types in athletes of different sport specialities. Based on the intergroup tests by the LSD method, we found the following differences: (1) The wind type was found dominating in the track and field athletes versus athletes of other sport disciplines (p<0.05); (2) The bile and phlegm types were found more expressed in the track and field athletes than in the football players (p<0.01); (3) The bile type was found more expressed in the track and field athletes than in the archers (p<0.01); (4) Our analysis of the relationship of different body regulation systems showed that the bile and phlegm types in every sport discipline prevail over the wind type, with the only exclusion for the football players that showed relatively indistinct dominance of the phlegm type. These test data may be considered substantiating for the presently popular opinion on the double mix bile-phlegm psycho-physiological type being advantageous for elite sports [1].

Having analyzed the diagrams in more detail, one can find the following: wrestlers, volleyball players and track and field athletes show dominance of the bile and phlegm types; whilst dominating in the archers and football players are the phlegm and bile types, respectively. It should be noted that the study gives only average values, but the individual rates may differ.


The study shows that the relatively low anxiety levels, increased radicalism and emotional balance may be interpreted as favourable factors for the athletes’ success rates. It is the double mix bile-phlegm type that is tested as most favourable for an athletic activity since it apparently provides a balanced combination of the determination and self-control qualities. The differences in the thinking immediacy, verbal culture and erudition test rates of the athletes representing different sport disciplines were attributed to the regional specifics. The study also generated data on the constitutional types of the athletes. Variations of the latter, however, may be alternatively explained by the sport discipline specifics being of effect on the athlete’s psycho-physiology; and/or the athlete may select the sport discipline as dictated by his/ her inborn psycho-physiological factors.

Based on the above, the coaching teams in charge of the athletes’ from Buryatia training and competitive process design and management are recommended to take into account their significant typological differences as found by the study. 


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