Psychology is an academic and applied discipline which aims to understand the mental functions and social disciplines which affect the behaviour of humans in society today. Studying the psychology behind sport is important as it can give an insight into the mentality of a highly successful elite athlete, and provide the possibility of programming other athletes with the psychological traits they need to optimize their performance. As well as this, it enables coaches, managers, fitness professionals and other people in positions of instruction, to be able to understand how to relate to, effectively give guidance, and relate to each individual athlete.
Personality is ‘the more or less stable and enduring organisation of an individual's character, temperament, intellect, and physique which determines their unique adjustment to the environment’ - Eysenck, 1960.
Each individual’s personality is made up of different components. The main 4 things that psychologists look at to determine personality are consistency, psychological and physiological, behaviours and actions, and displays of expression.
Consistency - An individual will behave in similar/the same ways in different situations. This allows us to make a judgement to predict future reactions and identify habits of behaviours.
Psychological and physiological - Personality is the product of psychological traits, but these traits are affected by biological processes and genes.
It impacts behaviors and actions -The way in which a person’s personality affects their conduct in society, and their reactions to certain situations.
Multiple expressions - Personality is also displayed in ways other than observable behaviour and actions. Emotions, personal relationships, thoughts and feelings are all clues as to the personality of an individual.
Personality theories: Trait theory. (Eysenck)
Psychologist Hans Eysenck developed a theory made up of 2 lines of personality, which act as continuums. He believed that all people will fall somewhere along these lines.
Eysenck said that all people are either extrovert or introvert. Then, in addition to that, we are all somewhere between stable, and unstable (neurotic).
Stable extrovert - these people are likely to be outgoing, sociable and playful
Stable introvert - these people are likely to keep themselves to themselves, sometimes be quite shy, passive and are very reliable
Unstable (neurotic) extrovert - these people are likely to be aggressive, and spontaneous. They are frequently unreliable as you can never guess their next move.
Unstable (neurotic) introvert - these people are generally pessimists. They are quiet and prefer their own company.
Personality theories: Type theory
Type theories suggest that a series of traits are frequently grouped together to form two types of personality: Type A and Type B.
Type A: individuals are impatient and lack tolerance towards others. They also have high levels of personal anxiety
Type B: individuals are far more relaxed and are more tolerant towards others. They have much lower personal anxiety
Personality theories: Social learning theory. (Bandura)
In social learning theory Albert Bandura (1977) states behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning.
Unlike Skinner, Bandura (1977) believes that humans are active information processors and think about the relationship between their behavior and its consequences. Observational learning could not occur unless cognitive processes were at work.
Bandura suggests that we all have different role models for different situations. These role models tend to be people we see as similar to ourselves. For example a young female runner will look up to, and imitate the behaviour of another female runner.
The process of learning behaviour has 4 stages:
Attention: the individual will spend time studying the