Cognitive components of self-concepts of successful versus unsuccessful athletes

Фотографии: 

PhD, Associate Professor A.E. Lovyagina1
1
St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg

Keywords: self-concept, behavioral models, competitive success.

Background. Self-concept in the modern national and global psychology is interpreted as a combination of individual conceptions of own personality considered and applied as the key behavioral control mechanism [2, 4]. Athletes’ mental control in stressful competitive situation and the mental control correction efforts may be not efficient enough when the cognitive components of the self-concept and their behavioral implications are understudied and the individual mental control test data are deficient [1, 6].

Objective of the study was to analyze the cognitive components of the self-concept and behavioral models of successful versus unsuccessful track and field athletes.

Methods and structure of the study. Applied for the study purposes were the following methods: Self-concept measuring Twenty Statements Test (TST) by M. Kuhn and T. McPartland and Behavioral Models Questionnaire by K. Thomas adapted by S.T. Janerjan [3]. Athletes were required to describe themselves in terms of the “My Personality” and “My Body” tests, with the Behavioral Models Questionnaire by K. Thomas adapted by N.V. Grishina applied for this test component [5]. Subject to the study was a sample of track and field athletes (n=56 including 28 males and 28 females) aged 17-30 years; qualified Class I to Honorary Master of Sports; having the track records of 3-15 years; and specialized in the track sprint and race, shot put and all-round events; with the sample including 8 Class I athletes; 19 Candidate Masters of Sport; 23 Masters of Sport; 2 World Class Masters of Sport; and 4 Honorary Masters of Sport. The competitive success of every athlete was rated by a team of top experts using the following rating criteria: formal sport qualification/ class; regional/ national/ global popularity; sport income rate; and how well the sport progress is combined with other forms of individual progress (in education, business or other jobs). Quartiles of the integrated competitive success rates and cluster analyses were applied to break down the sample into the provisionally successful and unsuccessful groups. The study data were processed using the Spearman rank correlation ratio and Friedman and Mann-Whitney criteria.

Study results and discussion. The self-concepts produced by the tests were classified by the dominating aspects as follows:

  • Expressive aspects with the firm assertions of the self-concept like “I’ve got a strong character”; “I am strong”; “I always attain the goals I set” etc.;
  • Intentional aspects with the less expressed goals and motivations like “Want to get stronger”, “Must move forward”, “My goal is to do my best in the sport” etc.; and
  • Instrumental aspect focused on own skills and abilities, like “I’ve got a lot of skills”, “Can do what the coach wants”; “Can cope with fatigue when necessary” etc.

It was found that the cognitive component of the self-concepts of the successful group is dominated by the expressive and instrumental aspects versus the intentional aspects found to dominate in the unsuccessful group: see Table 1.

Table 1. Self-concepts of the sample classified using the Friedman criterion

Self-concept aspects

 

Successful group

Unsuccessful group

Difference significance rate

Expressive

164,5

81,5

р ≤ 0,05

Intentional

89,5

83,0

р ≤ 0,05

Instrumental

154,5

74,0

р ≤ 0,05

The test data show the successful group having more clear perceptions of own personality qualities and sport-specific skills versus the unsuccessful group. The intentional aspects of the self-concepts in the successful group are well correlated with the instrumental ones (r = 0.512, p<0.01); versus no such correlation found in the unsuccessful group. This means that the successful group closely relates its goals and motivations to the necessary skills and abilities, whilst the unsuccessful group tends to dream of competitive accomplishments rather than concentrate on the skills required for success. Furthermore, the successful group was found more prone to the cooperative behavioral models and the unsuccessful group to the competitive ones: see Table 2.

Table 2. Behavioural models rated by the Mann-Whitney criterion

Behavioural model

Successful group

Unsuccessful group

Competition

468,50

1127,50

Cooperation

1097,00

499,00

Domination of the competition-focused behavioural models in the unsuccessful group may be explained by the fact that these athletes still have to compete for the competitive progress to enter into and be recognized as the sport elite – as opposed to the successful athletes who are already recognized and, hence, more prone to cooperation for successful interaction with coaches, managers, sponsors and other relevant groups. The successful group’s proneness to cooperation was found to correlate with the expressive aspects of the self concept – versus the competitive behavioural model dominating in the unsuccessful group and correlating with the intentional aspects of the self-concept: see Table 3.

Table 3. Behavioural models versus self-concept aspects rated by the Spearman criterion: significant correlations

Behavioural model

Successful group

Unsuccessful group

Self-concept aspects

Expressive

Intentional

Competition

-

0,993      р ≤ 0,01

Cooperation

0, 981         р ≤ 0,01

-

Compromise

- 0,387      р ≤ 0,05

-0,479      р ≤ 0,05

Avoidance

-0,566       р ≤ 0,01

-0,482      р ≤ 0,05

Adaptation

-0,381        р ≤ 0,05

-0,443       р ≤ 0,05

The stronger are the expressive aspects of the self-concept, the more prone are the athletes to the cooperative behavioural models and less prone to compromises, avoidance and adaptation; and the stronger are the intentional aspects of the self-concept, the more prone are the athletes to the competitive behaviour and less prone to compromises, avoidance and adaptation. 

Conclusion. Competitive success in modern track and field athletics is known to largely depend on the cognitive component of the self-concept and the athlete’s behavioural model. This is the reason why athletes need to clearly understand their own physical and personality qualities to facilitate the behavioural control and competitive progress.

References

  1. Andreev V.V., Petrov S.I., Apoyko R.N. Podgotovka vysokokvalifitsirovannykh sportsmenov: psikhologicheskiy aspekt [Highly skilled athletes’ training: psychological aspect]. St. Petersburg: Lesgaft NSU publ., 2015, 160 p.
  2. Burns R. Razvitie Ya-kontseptsii i vospitanie [Self-Concept Development and Education]. Moscow: Progress publ., 1986, pp. 30-57.
  3. Janerjan S.T. Professionalnaya Ya-kontseptsiya: sistemny analiz. Dis. dokt. psikhol. Nauk [Professional self-concept: system analysis. Doct. diss. (Psych)]. Rostov-on-Don: RSU publ., 2005. 316 p.
  4. Kon I.S. V poiskakh sebya. Lichnost i ee samosoznanie [Identity crisis. Personality and self-awareness]. Moscow: Polit. literature publ., 1984, 443 p.
  5. Test-oprosnik povedeniya K. Tomasa (adaptatsiya N.V. Grishinoy) [K. Thomas behavior inventory (N.V. Grishin’s version)]. Psychological tests (A.A. Karelin ed.): In 2 vol. Moscow, 2001, vol. 2, pp. 69-77.
  6. Hanin Y.L. Performance affects in top sports. IX European Congress on sport psychology. Brussels, 1995, pp. 254 - 261.

Corresponding author: Lovagina2@mail.ru

Abstract

Objective of the study was to analyze the cognitive components of the self-concept and behavioural models of successful versus unsuccessful track and field athletes. Applied for the study purposes were the following methods: Self-concept measuring Twenty Statements Test (TST) by M. Kuhn and T. McPartland and Behavioural Models Questionnaire by K. Thomas. Subject to the study were track and field athletes (n=56 including 28 males and 28 females) qualified Class I to Honorary Master of Sports. The study showed domination of the expressive and instrumental traits and cooperation-focused behavioural type in the successful athletes’ self-concepts; versus the dominant intentional traits and competitive behavioural models in the unsuccessful athletes’ self-concepts. Competitive success in the modern track and field athletics is known to largely depend on the cognitive component of the self-concept and athlete’s behavioural model. This is the reason why athletes need to clearly understand their physical and personality qualities to facilitate behavioural and competitive progress.