Comparative analysis of personality traits of student-athletes with impairments and healthy students within studies



Postgraduate N.R. Usaeva
Dr.Sc.Psych., Professor B.P. Yakovlev
PhD, Associate Professor V.V. Apokin
Surgut State University, Surgut

Keywords: inclusive education, educational activity, students with impairments, set of psycho-diagnostic techniques, personality traits, quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Background. The ongoing national education system reforms designed to improve the education quality and the system accessibility for every social group are ranked among the top priority thrusts of the social policies pursued by the Russian government. In this context, the social demand for inclusive education and generally on the new ways to improve the institutional arrangements, content and methods of education for children with health impairments – has been on the rise. The initiatives to reform the education and training system for the benefit of handicapped children are designed to shape up and develop a socially active personality with healthy living culture and social adaptation centred behavioural model flexible enough to adjust to the modern living environments. The government policies to establish equal social participation conditions and opportunities for every member of community are naturally dictated by the top priority tasks faced by every democratic government system [4].

Special attention in this context is being given to the higher education services and high-quality professional knowledge and skills being accessible for the people experiencing health impairments. As far as the existing higher education system is concerned, it is the state educational standards (mandatory for every student) that regulate the communication and learning process of handicapped university students and their healthy peers. However, the initiatives to integrate a handicapped person into higher educational environments need to be based on a good knowledge of the psychological traits of the people experiencing different health impairments since chronic somatic diseases and physical disorders of constraining effects on the person’s functions and interactions with surroundings are known to evoke secondary personality disorders in terms of the “self-concepts”, achievement/ affiliation/ self-assurance needs etc. It is only through an integrated approach to the handicapped students’ education that they may be expected to grow and graduate as professionals to be highly competitive on the modern labour markets. And it is only through a perfect knowledge of the handicapped students’ personality development traits that an active and harmonically developed individual may be formed. One of the ways to address this mission is the educational inclusion that is designed, first and foremost, as a socialization and social rehabilitation tool to involve the person into the existing social institutions, and only then as a form of higher professional education [8].

Specific educational needs of the handicapped students will be identified with due consideration for the nature and degree of the primary disorder (hearing/ vision impairments, central nervous system diseases etc.) and its consequences in terms of limitations of the bodily system functions [1]. Unless due knowledge base and toolkits of the relevant psychological support system are applied in the educational process design and management, the educational establishment will not only fail mobilize the educational and personality resources of the handicapped students but its activity may even result in further irremediable damage to their health conditions [8, 9]. Persistent corrective and educational impacts on the handicapped students’ mental development by the educational curriculum tailored to their special educational needs and facilitating special conditions to help the students acquire new knowledge and make progress coming up from one mental development tier to the higher one – will make it possible to mobilize their educational and personality potential to help them master the educational curriculum going forward by their prudently selected special educational route [1].

Individual success in the process will directly depend on the biological and compensatory abilities of the student body (including condition of the central nervous system, other organs and systems), timing and quality of the target psychological and educational support and the persistency and timing of the corrective impacts. In the process of the handicapped students being included in the higher professional education system, it should be remembered that the inclusion will be designed based on a differentiated inclusion plan. Some handicapped students with marginal disorders may be included in general (“frontal”) education groups; some will be gathered in small special groups; and some will need only individualized special education curriculum. The earlier the children with special developmental needs are subject to the differential approach to involve them in the integrated health rehabilitation and mental development process with a variety of special psychological support and educational methods and tools being applied, the higher are the chances for their successful socialization, the better satisfied are their special educational needs and the higher is the efficiency of the academic education process [9].

Objective of the study was to identify individual mental traits of the university students with hearing impairments versus those of their healthy sporting peers in the university physical education process.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to the study were high-ranking university athletes with hearing impairments formally qualified Masters of Sport (4), International Class Masters of Sport (1) and Honoured Masters of Sport (5) in volleyball and track and field sports. The Reference Group was composed of 18 healthy young men and women qualified Masters of Sport (5), Candidates for Master of Sport (4) and Class I/II Athletes (9).

The handicapped students subject to the study were taking their course in the academic group majoring in Physical Education for Students with Health Impairments (Adaptive Physical Education) at Surgut State University. The study was performed in February 2014 and repeated a year later in 2015.

The following psychological diagnostic tools were used in the study: educational monitoring; interviews; personality testing Subjective Control Questionnaire by Y.F. Bazhin, Y.A. Golynkina, L.M. Etkind (1984) [5, 6]; Life-Sense Orientation Test (LSO) by D.A. Leontiev (1988) [3, 7]; Achievement Need (AV) and Communication Need (CN) questioning-based tests by N.M. Peysakhov (1977) [2]; and the common mathematical data processing tools (Student t-criterion, Pearson r-correlation coefficient etc.).

Study results and discussion. The study of the academic progress of the 16 subject high-ranking Surgut University athletes with hearing impairments made it possible to classify, profile and rate variations of their personality traits versus those of their healthy peers.

Presented in Tables hereunder are the study data of the fact-finding comparative analysis with the external variable balancing for the Reference Groups (RG) and Study Groups (SG). SG-1 was composed of 8 handicapped young men; SG-2 of 8 handicapped young women; RG-1 of 10 healthy young men; and RG-2 of 8 healthy young women.

The Life-Sense Orientation (LSO) test rates with the mean (Х) and standard (σ) deviations (see Table 5) on five sub-scales versus the overall Life Consciousness (LC) rates showed the handicapped students being rated lower on these scales than their healthy peers of both sexes. It should be noted that the young men’s test rates were significantly different as verified by the t-criterion, while differences of the young women’s test rates were found insignificant. Furthermore, the Life Effectiveness and Life Satisfaction rates of the handicapped young women were found higher than those of their healthy peers. Scores on this scale are deemed indicative of how effective and sensible the relevant life period was. The correlation analysis found closer correlation (r=0.83, р<0.01) of the Life Effectiveness and Achievement Need rates of the handicapped students versus that of their healthy peers (r=0.50, р<0.05).

Table 1. Life-Sense Orientation (LSO) test rates of the Study Groups versus the References Groups, Х±σ


Life goals

Life process

Life effectiveness

Locus of Control “Self-concept”

Locus of Control “Life”






















































Note: LC means the overall Life Consciousness rate; *p<0.05

The Achievement Need (AN) and Communication Need (CN) test rates of the SG and RG students (see Table 2) showed insignificant sex-specific differences. It should be noted that the group-average CN test rates of the handicapped students were higher than those of their healthy peers. The Communication Need is generally manifested in the desire for joint activities like parties, entertainments, meetings, send-offs etc. when the person strives to come closer to the other group members [3]. The Achievement Need (AN) rates were found higher in the healthy groups; with the handicapped girls showing a clear misfortune-avoiding trend. The people with the highest AN rates are deemed to be generally: unhappy with their accomplishments; always striving to perform better than before; over-dedicated to hard working; and too focused on the joys of success [3]. The AN rates were in a positive correlation with the Life Effectiveness rates (see Table 1) and Locus of Control “self-concept” rates (r=0.61, р<0.05). The high personality Life-Sense Orientation (LSO) test rates generally mean that the person feels being a master of his/her own life acting in a free-choice manner and capable of designing the life as required by the personal goals, missions and notions of the life senses. The low LSO test rates are generally indicative of the person’s disbelief in own powers and abilities to control the flow of own life. The healthy students showed a significant correlation of the LSO test rates with the Life Effectiveness (see Table 1) test rates, Locus of Control “Life” rates (r=0.52 with р<0.05) and the OI (Overall Internality) rates (r=0.51 with  р<0.05). The high Locus of Control “Life” rates mean that the person firmly believes in his/ her own life-control capacity and decision-making-and-implementation freedoms. The high OI (Overall Internality) rates are deemed indicative of the person’s belief that the life flow can be controlled by his/ her own actions and, hence, he/she is responsible for every event in life in particular and the way it goes on the whole. The correlation analysis of the handicapped students showed a positive correlation of the OI (Overall Internality) rates with the HI (Health Internality) rates (r=0.65 with р<0.05). The high HI (Health Internality) rates (obtained by the Subjective Control Level [SCL] test method) are deemed indicative of the person feeling him/herself responsible for the own health and firmly believing that his/her rehabilitation largely depends on his/her own actions [6].

Table 2. The Peysakhov’s test rates of the Study Groups versus the References Groups, Х±σ


Achievement Need test rates

Communication Need test rates













The students' scores on the seven Subjective Control Level (SCL) test scales show the same trends as the foregoing quantitative and qualitative test rates. The handicapped students showed the lower test rates on every of these test scales compared to their healthy peers. The outcome test rates (see Table 3) were distributed by the following sthene classes: >5.5 sthene class characteristic of the internal-type control domination on the SCL scales; and <5.5 sthene class with domination of the external-type controls on the SCL scales. The healthy students were tested with dominating internal-type controls, whilst the handicapped students showed external-type controls on every SCL scale except for the HI Health Internality) rates. The subjective control rates were found to rise as a result of the prudent psychological regulation and correction actions. In the regulation/ corrective process, due allowance will be made for the fact that the internals prefer non-directive psychological regulation methods as opposed to the externals that are subjectively more inclined to discreet behavioural-control methods since they are more exposed to high-anxiety conditions, intra-psychical conflicts, lower self-image integration rates and destructive/ defensive behavioural models [6].

Table 3. The Subjective Control Level (SCL) test rates of the Study Groups versus the References Groups, Х±σ






































































OI means the Overall Internality test scale;

AI means the Achievement Internality test scale;

MI means the Misfortune Internality test scale;

FRI means the Family Relationship Internality test scale;

BRI means the Business Relationship Internality test scale;

IPI means the Interpersonal Relationship Internality test scale; and

HI means the Health/ Disease Internality test scale.


Conclusion. The study data and analyses demonstrate the need for a due psychological support system being designed and implemented to facilitate the psychological problems faced by the handicapped students in the academic education process being effectively solved. The handicapped sporting students’ psychological support system will be efficient enough when it is designed: on a systemic and permanent basis; as a personality-centred system; focused on the individual personality development needs and personal traits of the subjects of importance for the professional fitness standards being achieved; to develop positive mindsets, due tolerance, emotional balancing skills under stresses and due social, psychological and professional competences.

The handicapped students’ psychological support system applicable in the academic education process may include the following components:

  • Adaptive self-improvement programs and projects for the students with impairments, with due account of the actual health diagnoses and personality traits of every handicapped student;
  • Social/ psychological/ educational training programs to develop the communication/ cognitive/ creative qualities and skills in the handicapped students;
  • Mental self-regulation and self-correction training courses for the handicapped students;
  • Practical psychological support in form of individual/ group consulting sessions;
  • Psychological service capacity in form of psychological consulting offices to help the handicapped students in solving every problem they face in the education process in the relevant special health groups;
  • Periodic/ phased integrated psychological diagnostic tests of the handicapped students in the academic education process to rate their progress in the personality correction process; and
  • Informational support to the university educators and psychologists to help them design a consistent strategy of the handicapped students’ psychological support system.


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Integration of a person with impairments into the university educational environment requires knowledge of the psychological characteristics of the personality formation of an individual with functional limitations as chronic physical illnesses, physical defects, acting as a functional limitation of man's capabilities of interacting with the environment, promote secondary changes at the level of personality traits. Educational inclusion is one of solutions, which is seen first of all, not only as obtaining higher education, but also as a means of socialization in public institutions and social rehabilitation. The knowledge of the characteristics of the personality development of students with impairments at each stage of training is a necessary condition for the formation of an active, harmoniously developed personality.