PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type

<< THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Lesson 16
Structured Questionnaires Designed For Athletes
In addition to the MMPI and the 16Pf, sport psychologists also use other inventories that may be considered
personality inventories. So far we have learned that we could measure the personality trait of self-confidence
using Vealey's (1986) Trait Sport-Confidence Inventory. We learned that we could measure task and ego goal
orientation using either the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire (TEOSQ; Duda 1989), or the
Perceptions of Success Questionnaire (POSQ; Roberts, 1993). We learned that we could measure attentional
focus using Nideffer's (1976) Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Styles (TAIS). These inventories were
designed to measure specific personality disposition or traits.
In addition to the specific trait inventories, sport psychologists have developed general personality inventories
designed to measure personality traits in athletes. These inventories have generally been developed for the
purpose of studying the relationship between personality and athletic performance. You should know that no
scientific study to date has shown a strong statistical relationship between personality variables and athletic
ability. Personality and psychological testing can play an important role in player development, but no evidence
exists to justify its use in making personnel decisions.
In this section three personality/psychological inventories will be mentioned, they are:
Athletic Motivation Inventory
Winning Profile Athletic Instrument
Troutwine Athletic Profile
Athletic Motivation Inventory
The Athletic Motivation Inventory (AMI) was developed by Thomas Tuko, Bruce Ogilvie, and Leland Lyon at
the Institute for the Study of Athletic motivation at San Jose State College (Tutko & Richards, 1971, 1972).
According to its authors, the AMI measures eleven personality traits related to high athletic achievement. They
Emotional control
Mental toughness
The reliability and validity of the instrument has been questioned by many researchers. However, Tutko and
Richards (1972) say that thousands of athletes have been tested and that the AMI was originally based upon the
16PF and the Jackson Personality Research Form. Studies suggest that AMI is a poor predictor of psychological
strength of ice hockey players.
Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Winning Profile Athletic Instrument
The Winning Profile Athletic Instrument (WPAI) was developed by Jesse Llobet of Psy-Metrics. The
WPAI is a fifty-item inventory that measures conscientiousness and mental toughness. Llobet (1999)
reported internal reliability coefficients of .83 and .87 for these two factors respectively. When
completing the instrument, athletes are asked to use their own sport as a frame of reference for
answering questions.
Troutwine Athletic Profile
The Troutwine Athletic Profile (TAP) was developed by Bob Troutwine, a professor of psychology at
William Jewell College (Carey, 1999); Rand, 2000). Psychometric properties of the TAP have not been
published in any of the mainline sport psychology journals; nor has anything scientific been published
about the validity of the test in terms of predicting athletic success.
The Credulous Versus Skeptical Argument
Many sport psychologists are polarized on the issue of the credibility of personality research. On one
side, a few researchers believe that positive and accurate predictions can be made about sport
performance from personality profiles based on measured traits. Proponents of this position are
considered credulous in nature are generally willing to use results of personality testing in predicting
athletic success. On the other side are sport psychologists who tend to be skeptical, minimizing the
value of personality assessment in predicting athletic success.
Personality is not a strong predictor of athletic performance, but it is a predictor. Based upon what is
known about personality, it is unreasonable to expect a high correlation between a personality
disposition and a physical skill. A person's basic personality should be viewed as just one factor that can
contribute to athletic success.
Personality and Sport Performance
Since 1960, several comprehensive literature reviews have been completed in an attempt to clarify the
relationship between personality and sport performance (Cofer & Johnson, 1960; Cooper, 1969;
Hardman, 1973; Ogilvie, 1968, 1976; Morgan, 1980b).
Literature shows a consistent relationship between personality and sport performance when (a)
response distortion is removed, and (b) data are analyzed using a multivariate approach. A multivariate
approach is used when multiple measures of personality are analyzed simultaneously, as opposed to
It is good to remember that the relationship between sport performance and personality is far from
crystal clear; it seems equally true that certain general conclusions can be drawn.
Athletes versus Nonathletes
Athletes differ from nonathletes on many personality traits (Gat & McWhirter, 1998). Research shows
that athletes who participate in team and individual sports are more independent, more objective, and
less anxious than nonathletes. From Hardman's (1973) review it is also clear that the athlete is often
more intelligent than average. Cooper (1969) described the athletes as being more self-confident,
competitive, and socially outgoing than the nonathletes.
Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Athletes tend to be alert, enthusiastic, forthright, self-sufficient, reality based and practical, and exhibit
low anxiety, emotional detachment, low superegos, and high levels of sensation seeking.
Personality Sport Type
Can personality profiles of athletes in one sport be reliably differentiated from those of athletes in another
sport? The first real attempts to answer this question were made with bodybuilders. Research by Henry (1941),
Thune (1949), and Harlow (1951), for example, suggested that bodybuilders suffer from feelings of masculine
inadequacy, and are overly concerned with health, body build, and manliness. Studies showed that bodybuilders
were high in achievement motivation and resistance to change, but relatively normal in other traits measured.
Researches were also carried out on other athletes; results showed that when football players and wrestlers were
contrasted with gymnasts and karate participants, significantly different personality profiles emerged. The
wrestlers and football players had similar profiles, while the gymnast and karate athletes differed from each
other, as well as from the wrestlers and football players.
Schurr, Ashley, and Joy (1977), in their signal research, clearly demonstrated that personality profile differences
exist between players of team and individual sports, and between players of direct and parallel sports. Team
sport athletes were observed to be more anxious, dependent, extraverted, and alert-objective, but less sensitive-
imaginative, than individual sport athletes. Direct sport athletes (basketball, football, soccer, etc.), were observed
to be more independent and to have less ego strength than parallel sport athletes.
Super-athletes are runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes who are dedicated to endurance activities. Super-
adherer would also differ from athletes in other sports in certain personality traits. The literature shows that
athletes in one sport often differ in personality type and profile from athletes in other sports. It seems
reasonable for example to expect a football player to be more aggressive, anxious, and tolerant of pain than a
golfer or a tennis player. However, the point still needs to be made that the state of the art (or science) is still
not so refined that one could feel justified in arbitrarily categorizing young athletes based on their personality
Player Position and Personality Profile
Now here as well the same concept can be applied to whether athletes of a certain sport exhibit different
personality profiles based on player position.
In recent years we have experienced an age of super specialization in team sports. In baseball, outfielders are
inserted based on whether they hit left or right handed. In football the offense and defense of the same team
rarely come in contact with each other. In volleyball, hitters and setters have specialized roles that dictate the
sorts of defensive and offensive assignments they fulfill. Similar kind of specializations can be observed with
most other team sports.
In a study reported by Schurr, Ruble, Nisbet, and Wallace (1984), a comparison was made between players
position in football and personality traits. Using the Myers-Briggs Type inventory (MBTI), the authors
concluded that linesmen differ significantly from backfield players in terms of judging and perceiving traits.
Linesmen tend to be more organized and practical, while defensive and offensive backs are more flexible and
adaptable. Interestingly, No reliable differences were noted between offensive and defensive linesmen, while
offensive backs tended to be more extraverted and defensive backs more introverted.
Personality Profiles of Athletes Differing in Skill Level
It is basically the ability to distinguish between successful and unsuccessful athletes in any particular sport using
personality traits has never been particularly successful. Foe example if we are using collegiate wrestlers and
karate participants we can not successfully distinguish between the successful and unsuccessful performers.
Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Likewise using tennis and baseball players we can not distinguish between successful and unsuccessful players.
Similarly a research was done and the researchers were unable to distinguish between starters and nonstarters in
high school boys basketball.
The lack of relationship between personality traits and skill level are the results of the Schurr et al.
(1977) research. Successful and unsuccessful sport participation in this study was determined based on
whether or not the athlete earned a letter or award. The results of this comparison using the global
factors of the 16 PF failed to show a significant relationship between performance and personality. It
does not seem reasonable to expect that a group of first string athletes could be separated from a group
of second string athletes based solely on personality traits. Both of these groups consist of highly skilled
athletes in the first place, or they would not be on the team. Additionally the task of differentiating
between two groups of relatively successful performers on the basis of skill itself is very tenuous and
arbitrary task.
One exception to the general rule is that skill level cannot be differentiated as a function of personality
may occur when elite athletes are compared with athletes of lesser ability. As elite athletes move up the
athletic pyramid, they become more alike in their personality and psychological traits. At the base or
entrance level of sport, athletes are very heterogeneous, or have different personalities. However,
certain personality traits will enhance an athlete's likelihood of advancing to a higher level, while other
traits will undermine it. Through a process of natural selection, at each higher level of the athletic
personality pyramid, the athlete become more alike, or more homogeneous, in their personality traits.
When trying to differentiate between athletes of varying skill levels in the middle and lower parts of the
pyramid, we meet with failure. Elite athletes however will exhibit similar profiles and will differ as a
group from less skilled groups.
The Female Athlete
The conclusions and generalizations that have been drawn from the previous comparison areas have
come primarily through research conducted on male and female subjects. This is not to say that the
conclusions would have been any different if female subjects had been used. Indeed, we should expect
the results to be essentially the same.
A research shows that the "Comparisons of college athletes and nonathletes, or athletes from different
sport groups, did not appear to be consistent in the literature dealing with females". After reviewing
much of the available literature on the female athletes and personality, Williams (1980) cautiously
concluded that the "normative" female differs in personality profile from the successful female athlete.
Specifically, the female athlete is found to exhibit personality traits much like those of both the
normative male and the male athletes (i.e., assertive, achievement-oriented dominant, self-sufficient,
independent, aggressive, intelligent, and reserved). For example Female body builders were observed to
be more extraverted, more vigorous, less anxious, less neurotic, less depressed, less angry, and less
confused (Freedson, Mihevic, Loucks & Girandola, 1983)
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York:
McGraw-Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary Themes.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers
Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants