Examining the Antecedents of Social Support and Performance, Applying Generalisability Theory
Coussens, Adam H.
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Social support plays an important role in our physical and mental health, and is also recognised as a key factor for the success and well-being of athletes. It would be of significant interest for researchers and practitioners to identify the components of perceived and received social support, support antecedents, and subsequent consequences of support. The first aim of this thesis was to apply a univariate generalisability theory approach to examine the components of perceived and received support. The second aim was to apply a multivariate generalisability theory approach to identify the antecedents and consequences of perceived and received support across different levels of analysis. Four studies were conducted applying either a fully crossed or partially nested design to examine components of social support when athletes rated coaches or their most important support providers within their existing social networks. Further, in Studies 3 and 4, participants also completed a performance task in the presence of support providers. Univariate analyses demonstrated that consistently across all studies the relational and social components accounted for the largest amount of variance in both perceived and received support. These findings suggest that perceivers rated certain providers to be particularly supportive, in comparison to how they rated other providers. Across all studies multivariate analyses revealed that provider personality and social identity related to perceptions of support at the relational and social level. In Studies 1 and 4, coach competency also related to perceptions of support at the relational and social level. When athletes perceived certain providers to exhibit specific personality traits, particularly the trait of agreeableness, felt certain coaches were highly competent, and shared a common identity with providers, those providers were also perceived to be particularly supportive. Studies 3 and 4, however, were unable to identify antecedents of received support at any level of analysis, suggesting that perceived and received support have distinct antecedents. Further, in Studies 3 and 4, perceived and received support had unique relationships with self-confidence and performance across the different components. At the perceiver and trait level, when athletes felt they generally received support from providers, they generally felt more confident. In comparison, at the relational and social level, if athletes perceived certain providers to be particularly supportive, they performed better in their presence. The support received from those providers was also beneficial through enhancing self-confidence and, in turn, performance. The findings from the current thesis significantly further conceptual understanding of perceived and received support by identifying their correlates at the different levels of analysis. The current thesis also offers evidence based recommendations for social support interventions.
Coussens, A. H., Rees, T., & Freeman, P. (2015). Applying generalizability theory to examine the antecedents of perceived coach support. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 37, 51-62
PhD in Sport and Health Sciences