Australian athletes' perceptions of sport psychology services

Harris, Greg Maxwell (2003) Australian athletes' perceptions of sport psychology services. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


North American researchers have examined athletes' perceptions regarding the use of sport psychology services, however, similar studies have not been conducted in Australia. The aims of this thesis were to investigate perceptions of sport psychology services with Australian athletes and to assess the psychometric properties of the Sport Psychology Attitude Questionnaire (SPAQ: Harmison, 1999). Despite the professional advancements, North American research has shown that a number of factors may contribute to negative perceptions and stigmatisation of athletes who seek sport psychology services. Based on previous research a number of hypotheses were formulated. Female athletes and athletes with previous exposure to sport psychology were expected to be significantly more receptive to sport psychology services. A sample of 179 male (n = 117) and female (n = 62) athletes, ranging in age from 17 to 69 years, competing in either amateur or professional sport completed the 25-item SPAQ and a demographics questionnaire. To examine athletes' perceptions, a 2 (gender) x 2 (level of sport psychology exposure) Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was conducted with the three SPAQ factors, confidence in sport psychology (11 items), stigma tolerance (6 items), and preference for similarity (8 items) as the dependent variables. Contrary to expectations male athletes were more confident in using the services of a sport psychologist than were female athletes F(1,175)=6.02, p=.015p<.05, ES=0.03. As expected athletes who had previous sport psychology consultation experience were more confident in using sport psychology services than those without previous experience F(1,175)=15.64, p<.001, ES=0.08. The descriptive results showed that athletes in the present study were moderately positive regarding the use of sport psychology services. Internal consistency (Cronbach alpha) for the SPAQ overall score (α=.74) and confidence in sport psychology (α= .82) sub-scale were acceptable. Alpha coefficient estimates for stigma tolerance (α=.55) and preference for similarity (α=.35) were poor. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) did not confirm the factor structure of the SPAQ, therefore, an exploratory principal components (PCA) analysis was performed. A five-factor solution (i.e., confidence to help with performance, recognition of personal need, sport psychologist and athlete likeness, stigma of using a sport psychology consultant, and interpersonal similarity) was extracted with an overall response variance of 51.5% incorporated 24 of the 25 items in the SPAQ. Thus, the Harmison model did not prove robust using CFA or PCA. Further item development and rewording of current items is needed before the SPAQ is likely to be a reliable instrument to measure athletes' perceptions of sport psychology services. Additional research of Australian athletes' perceptions of sport psychology services is required to confirm the findings of participants in this study.

Additional Information

Master of Applied Science

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Keywords sport psychology, athletes, attitudes, psychological services, Australia
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