The Effects of Multiple Group Memberships on Psychological Well-being, Performance, and Persistence in Sporting Transitions and Sporting Tasks
Date: 15 November 2013
University of Exeter
PhD in Sport and Health Sciences
Research suggests that belonging to multiple group memberships before and after life transitions promotes resilience by helping people maintain their well-being compared to those with fewer group memberships. Although group memberships are of key importance for well-being and adjustment to change, the influence of athletes’ group ...
Research suggests that belonging to multiple group memberships before and after life transitions promotes resilience by helping people maintain their well-being compared to those with fewer group memberships. Although group memberships are of key importance for well-being and adjustment to change, the influence of athletes’ group memberships on their well-being remains largely unexplored, despite the numerous transitions they face in sport. Furthermore, no research to date has assessed the effects of group memberships on performance, and little research has assessed the potential mechanisms through which group memberships produce beneficial effects on outcomes. These ideas were explored in this thesis. Two studies within this thesis adopted a longitudinal approach, using questionnaires to examine the effects of players’ group memberships on well-being after a sporting transition. Study 1 focused on team and club transitions for university students and measured changes in well-being across a three month period; Study 2, focused on programme transitions in elite cricket and measured changes in well-being across a two year period. Study 2 also examined whether the beneficial effects of group memberships extended to performance. Both studies demonstrated that players with multiple group memberships before and after transition generally experienced greater well-being after transition. Study 2 also showed that multiple group memberships had beneficial implications for performance. However, when the recency of the transition was taken into consideration, significant interactions between group memberships and time since the transition generally revealed that the beneficial effects were most pronounced for those who had recently transitioned into the clubs, teams, and programmes. Furthermore, both studies revealed that players with multiple group memberships before a transition were better able to maintain these group memberships across the transition (i.e., lose fewer groups) and more likely to identify highly with the new club, team, or programme (i.e., join new groups). Although Study 1 failed to uncover evidence of the processes underpinning these effects, Study 2 provided some evidence that identification with the new group, and (to a lesser extent) personal identity strength, appeared to be important potential mediators of the group membership effects. In Study 3, an experimental approach was employed to investigate whether changing athletes’ group memberships is associated with improvements in performance and persistence in a golf-putting task. To do this, the study manipulated the number of group memberships participants reflected on (i.e., control, one, or five groups) and assessed the effects this had on their performance and persistence (as an indicator of resilience). Results revealed that participants who were asked to reflect on five groups that they belonged to showed a greater improvement in their performance after receiving the group manipulation than those who reflected on one group and those in the control group condition. Furthermore, those who reflected on groups they belong to (whether one, or five) showed more persistence following false failure feedback than those who did not. Although potential mediating mechanisms were measured, there was no evidence that any of these processes accounted for the beneficial impact of group memberships. Overall, the results from this thesis demonstrate that multiple group memberships can promote resilience by making important contributions to athletes’ well-being, performance, and persistence. Thus, athletes should be encouraged to increase the number of group memberships they belong to as this may provide an important psychological resource during times of change.
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