Getting Riled Up: Prototypes, Aggression and Competitiveness Levels as Differentiated amongst Athletes and Position.

Devin Fitzgerald McQuillan

Adam Thomas Biggs

 

 

 

Abstract

Aggression and competition have long been tenants of the sporting environment. In this survey, participants (n=201) were surveyed in order to measure competitiveness, aggression, and self esteem. Significance was found in that college athletes were more competitive and placed greater emphasis upon victory than college non-athletes. Alternatively, neither extroversion nor self-esteem was found to be significantly different between athletes and non-athletes. Within the prototypes, certain characteristics were found to be attributed primarily to either the offense, as in the case of selfishness, or the defense, in the case of being hot-tempered. This research supports the notion that typical views of these players exist based upon their position in that particular sport, regardless of whether or not these characteristics truly exist since defensive players were not found to be more hostile than offensive players. Answers were analyzed based upon their correlation between sport or position and their degree of competitiveness and overall aggression. Significance was found in that athletes are more competitive in general than non-athletes

 

 

 

 

Getting Riled Up

Athletics are an involved component in today’s society.  The ways that athletes behave are an essential part of sports.  Do sports create aggressive behavior or attract people who are already aggressive?  Widmeyer and Birch (1984) have distinguished that the sports arena is not without aggressive behavior. For instance, aggression and competition have long been tenants of the sporting environment. Also, athletes who have been playing sports since they were young have probably had it imbedded into their heads that to be successful in their sport, they need to incorporate aggression into their personality.  In addition, they are told that in order to achieve what they desire, they have to compel themselves to do it with all their ability.  Not that this is wrong, nevertheless this attitude in today’s society has presented a predicament to the athletes when they engross themselves in instances they do not know how to behave. 

Throughout history, the culture has made it clear the positions that men along with women were expected to play.  In these roles, men were exemplified as being more physically as well as mentally stronger, while women were perceived as gentler and physically weaker.  The sports arena has become an area where some feel that violent performances should be eradicated.  Society will have difficulty in altering something that has been established for an elongated period of time.  The eradication of violent behavior would be problematic in sports because aggressiveness is a significant facet of the game. 

An assessment of college football athletes revealed conflicting outcomes based upon their personality.  According to Richardson (1962), research tends to depict athletes as inadequate societal samples.  For instance, he established that college football players on an athletic scholarship were low in the pro-social display of sportsmanship (Richardson, 1962).  Nation and LeUnes (1981) posited football players to be positive psychological models.  Nevertheless, in relation to non-athlete students, college players in general were found to exhibit less anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion (Nation and LeUnes, 1981). 

            Aggression in athletics may perhaps be placed into three categories comprising of instrumental aggression, hostile aggression or assertive behavior (Tenenbaum, Stewart, Singer, & Duda, 1997; Wann, 1997).  For instance, in instrumental aggression, the athlete strives to expel physical harm in order for their aspirations to be met.  Also, during hostile aggression, the athlete tends to exploit physical exertion of force in which their opponent is harmed.  In addition, when it comes to aggressive behavior in sports, the athlete utilizes force within the rules established by their desired sport. 

According to the International Society of Sport Psychology, the recent advancement in sports has resulted in the presence of aggression in players having a powerful influence on the behavior of athletes.  For instance, Husman and Silva (1984) state that aggressive behaviors in athletics are actions which comprise of a plan to injure oneself or another individual.  In order to comprehend aggression in athletics people must be able to distinguish between the two types of aggressive behaviors based on the type of reinforcement in accordance with the player.  “If a sport behavior is designed to harm a specific target and the reinforcement stems solely from injuring the victim or seeing the victim injured, that behavior is defined as hostile aggression” (Husman and Silva, 1984, p.250).  “If, on the other hand, the reinforcement for a harm-intending behavior is a competitive advantage rather than pure malicious intent, then the behavior may be termed instrumental aggression” (Husman and Silva, 1984, p.250).             

            When dealing with aggressive behaviors in athletics, the difference between sanctioned and unsanctioned aggression must be recognized (Kerr, 1999).  Kerr posits that numerous sports have situations that comprise of violent behavior in which they are either endured or accepted.  If the aggressive behavior is accepted, it then becomes sanctioned in that specific sport.  Baron and Richardson (1962) state that “aggressive behavior in athletics is any behavior, not recognized as legal within the official rules of conduct, directed towards an opponent, official, team-mate or spectator who is motivated to avoid such behavior”.  Baron and Richardson propose that behavior is intentional and imitates both hostile as well as instrumental aggression (Husman & Silva, 1984). 

            Numerous theories have been proposed in clarifying athlete’s actions in dealing with their sport.  The Frustration Aggression theory is the most prevalent model in analyzing aggression in athletics (Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears, 1939).  Dollard et al., proposed that frustration resulted from the blocking of goals which led to the exertion of frustration through aggressive behaviors.  Berkowitz (1989) states that aggression is an illustration of the correlation between unpleasant stimuli and negative affect.  According to Berkowitz, negative affect is unpleasant emotions and feelings, such as:  anger, annoyance, or pain.  Berkowitz noted that not all people respond to frustration with explicit aggression.  People’s chief reaction to frustration consists of learned responses that aid in the probability of aggressive behavior occurring. 

 

Method

Participants

This study included 201 (55.9% male) participants from a private liberal arts college. Participants were categorized into athlete and non-athlete.  Athlete participants were broken down as follows: baseball/softball (n = 6), football (n = 2), men and women’s basketball (n = 7), hockey (n = 1), men and women’s soccer (n = 10), men and women’s track and field (n = 3), two or more sports play simultaneously (n = 152), gymnastics (n = 3), non-athlete (n = 16), missing data (n = 1). The mean age of participants was 20 years, 9 months. The ethnic distribution was as follows: white (77.6%), African American (16.4%), Hispanic (2%), Asian (.5%), Native American (1%), missing data (2.5%). 

Testing Material

For this experiment, a survey was designed by the researcher including demographic information as well as questionnaires and inventories. To measure aggression Buss and Perry’s (1992) Aggression Questionnaire (AQ), which is a revised version of their earlier Hostility inventory (Buss & Durkee, 1957), was used.  It consists of 29 items, distributed unequally among physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger and hostility.  This questionnaire measures hostile aggression, because it contains items for aggressive behavior and aggressive feelings.            

Self Esteem was operationalized by the use of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory (1965), a scale comprised of a 10-item self-report measure of global self-esteem. It consists of 10 statements related to overall feelings of self-worth or self-acceptance.

Win Orientation was measured by the use of the Sport Goal Orientation Questionnaire which is a multidimensional, sport-specific measure of individual differences in achievement orientation. This questionnaire has two subscales consisting of the competitiveness and win orientation subscale.

Temperament was operationalized by The Keirsey Temperament Questionnaire, a self-assessed personality questionnaire designed to help people better understand themselves.

For full copy of the survey see Appendix A.

Procedure

The research design was constructed with the intent of examining aggression in athletes and non-athletes. The practical goal was to find the correlation between an athlete’s personality type and position(s) in their sport, particularly from contact sports.  The research was applied in a classroom as well as dorm room setting. The data was obtained by the researcher throughout different periods of the day throughout the various weekends.  Individuals were provided with the information of confidentiality and anonymity. Due to the affiliation involving athletic participation and aggression, individual qualities inherent within their character were included simply to help analyze the schematic information that led to the aggressive state. For statistical tests see Method.

 

Results

            The primary tests revolved around the aggression of the athletes and are therefore of special significance. The tests upon which they were scored examined the disparity between internal and external measures, particularly within the circumstances of aggression between specific situations due to opposing athlete and/or self. Paired samples t-tests were utilized on the data series to determine any significant differences among these variables with the findings as follows.

 

Table 1. Athletes vs. Non-Athletes

Trait

Sport

Mean

Sig.

Aggression

28 – 140

Athlete

79.6

.361

Non-Athlete

77.1

Self-Esteem

7 – 70

Athlete

55.1

.336

Non-Athlete

53.6

Competitiveness

12 – 60

Athlete

53.6

.001

Non-Athlete

40.2

Win Emphasis

5 – 25

Athlete

20.4

.001

Non-Athlete

16.2

Temperament

10 - 20

Athlete

13.3

.263

Non-Athlete

13.7

 

Table 2. Offense vs. Defense

Trait

Sport

Mean

Sig.

Aggression

28 – 140

Offense

82.3

.883

Defense

81.8

Self-Esteem

7 – 70

Offense

55.5

.932

Defense

55.0

Competitiveness

12 – 60

Offense

54.2

.793

Defense

53.8

Win Emphasis

5 – 25

Offense

20.9

.714

Defense

21.2

Temperament

10 - 20

Offense

12.9

.675

Defense

13.1

 

Table 3. Prototypes

Trait (1-7 Scale)

Offense

Defense

Sig.

Arrogance

5.01

4.34

.001*

Shyness

2.66

2.96

.023*

Selfishness

4.47

3.29

.001*

Courage

5.09

5.50

.001*

Hot-tempered

4.45

5.01

.001*

Wisdom

4.69

5.03

.006*

 

Slight variations within the determination existed for each aspect as the amount of participants available for each was different due to incomplete data in several of the scored surveys. The following chart examines their interaction after paired samples t-tests were used to analyze the data sets. The means are on a potential scale of one to seven, seven being the most exemplary of that quality.

 

Table 4. Contact vs. Non-Contact Sports

Trait

Sport

Mean

Sig.

Aggression

28 – 140

Contact

81.4

.175

Non-Contact

77.2

Self-Esteem

7 – 70

Contact

55.0

.892

Non-Contact

55.3

Competitiveness

12 – 60

Contact

54.2

.115

Non-Contact

52.0

Win Emphasis

5 – 25

Contact

21.1

.001

Non-Contact

18.8

Temperament

10 - 20

Contact

13.0

.111

Non-Contact

13.7

 

Discussion

The findings indicate that athletes had higher win emphasis and competitiveness than non-athletes even though they did not have significantly higher self-esteem.  Also, offensive players did not have more aggression/hostility than defensive players. It appeared as if offensive players were viewed as more arrogant and selfish while defensive players were viewed as being more shy, courageous, hot-tempered, and wise. In addition, athletes in contact sports were not more aggressive than those in non-contact sports.

Conclusion

            The results were clear. The higher aggression in contact than in non-contact athletes is consistent with the learning theory. However, this theory also demands that aggression should be greater for contact athletes than for their non-athlete counterparts. Future research should obtain systematic information about off-field aggression in athletes at various levels of expertise in various events, perhaps comparing team vs. individual.

 

References

Berkowitz, L. (1989).  Frustration-aggression hypothesis:  Examination and reformulation.  Psychological Bulletin, 106, p.59-73.

Buss, A. H., & Durkee, A. (1957). An inventory for assessing different kinds of hostility. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21 (4), p.343-349.

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63 (3), p.452-459.

Dollard, J., Doob, L., Miller, N., Mowrer, O. H., and Sears, R. R. (1939).  Frustration and aggression.  New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press.

Husman B, Silva J. (1984).  Aggression: definitional considerations.  In. Silva JM, Weinberg RS editors. Psychological foundations of sport.  Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. p.246-260.

Kerr, J. H. (1999).  The role of aggression and violence in sport:  A rejoinder to the ISSP position stand. The Sport Psychologist, 13, p.83-88.

 

Nation, J. R., & LeUnes, A. (1983). Saturday's heroes: A psychological portrait of college football players. Journal of Sport Behavior, 5, p.139-149.

Tenenbaum, G., Stewart, E., Singer, R. N., & Duda, J. (1997). Position Statement on Aggression and Violence in Sport: An ISSP Position Stand. http://www.issponline.org/

Richardson, D. E. (1962).  Ethical conduct in sport situations.  NCPEAM Proceedings, 66, p.98-104.

Widmeyer, W. N., & Birch, J. S. (1984). Aggression in professional ice hockey: A strategy for success or a reaction to failure? The Journal of Psychology, 117, 77-84.

  

 

 

 

Sports Psychology Survey

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.  Please answer every question to the best of your ability and with honesty.  All information collected in this survey will remain confidential and anonymous.

 

Gender:  Male    Female          Age: _____________             Ethnicity: ____________________

 

Did you play a sport as a child?                                     Yes                No

 

If yes, which sport(s)?....__________________________________________________________

 

What position(s)?...........__________________________________________________________

 

 

Did you play a sport as an adolescent?              Yes                 No

 

If yes, which sport(s)?....__________________________________________________________

 

What position(s)?...........__________________________________________________________

 

 

Do you currently play a sport?                          Yes                 No

 

If yes, which sport(s)?....__________________________________________________________

 

What position(s)?...........__________________________________________________________

 

 

What is your favorite sport to play?

 

What is your favorite sport to watch?

 

What is your least favorite sport in general?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. Buss-Durkee Inventory

Please answer each statement using a 5-point scale. Circle the number that best fits your feelings about the statement.

 

1                            2                                      3                                    4                                    5

Extremely                                                 Neutral                                                           Extremely Uncharacteristic                                                                                                               characteristic

 

_____1. Some of my friends think I am a hothead.

_____2. If I have to resort to violence to protect my rights, I will.

_____3. When people are especially nice to me, I wonder what they want.

_____4. I tell my friends openly when I disagree with them.

_____5. I have become so mad that I have broken things.

_____6. I wonder why sometimes I feel so bitter about things.

_____7. Once in awhile, I can't control the urge to strike another person.

 

1                               2                                   3                                    4                                  5

Extremely                                                Neutral                                                           Extremely                                                                  

Uncharacteristic                                                                                                         characteristic

 

_____8. I am an even-tempered person.

_____9. I am suspicious of overly friendly strangers.

_____10. I have threatened people I know.

_____11. I flare up quickly, but get over it quickly.

_____12. Given enough provocation, I may hit another person.

_____13. When people annoy me, I may tell them what I think of them.

_____14. I am sometimes eaten up with jealousy.

 

1                               2                                   3                                    4                                  5

Extremely                                                Neutral                                                            Extremely

Uncharacteristic                                                                                                         characteristic

 

_____15. I can think of no good reason for ever hitting a person.

_____16. At times I feel I have gotten a raw deal out of life.

_____17. I have trouble controlling my temper.

_____18. When frustrated, I let my irritation show.

_____19. I sometimes feel that people are laughing at me behind my back.

_____20. I often find myself disagreeing with people.

_____21. If somebody hits me, I hit back.

 

1                               2                                   3                                    4                                  5

Extremely                                                Neutral                                                           Extremely

Uncharacteristic                                                                                                         characteristic

 

_____22. I sometimes feel like a powder keg, ready to explode.

_____23. Other people always seem to get the breaks.

_____24. There are people who have pushed me so far that we came to blows.

_____25. I know that "friends" talk about me behind my back.

_____26. My friends say that I'm somewhat argumentative.

_____27. Sometimes I fly off the handle for no good reason.

_____28. I get into fights a little more than the average person.

 

B. Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory

Please answer each statement using the provided scale. Write the letter that best fits your feelings about the statement.

 

A                    B                    C                    D                    E                    F                    G

Strongly                                               Undecided                                                     Strongly

Disagree                                                                                                                     Agree

 

_____1. I feel that I’m a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.

_____2. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.

_____3. All in all, I’m inclined to feel that I’m a failure.

_____4. I am able to do things as well as most other people.

_____5. I feel that I do not have much to be proud of.

 

A                    B                    C                    D                    E                    F                    G

Strongly                                               Undecided                                                     Strongly

Disagree                                                                                                                     Agree

 

_____6. I take a positive attitude toward myself.

_____7. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.

_____8. I wish I could have more respect for myself.

_____9. I certainly feel useless at times.

_____10. At times, I think I am no good at all.

 

C. Athlete Prototypes

In general, please describe how these aspects apply to the individuals who play primarily offense and those who play primarily defense. Please use the scale given below:

 

1                    2                    3                    4                    5                    6                    7

Not at All                                            Somewhat                                               Very Much

 

 

Offensive Players:

 

a. Maturity................_______                                                  f. Selfishness................_______

b. Intelligence..........._______                                                  g.Courage....................._______

c. Energetic.............._______                                                  h. Hot-tempered..........._______

d. Arrogance............_______                                                  i. Eagerness................._______

e. Shyness................_______                                                  j. Wisdom...................._______

 

Defensive Players:

 

1                    2                    3                    4                    5                    6                    7

Not at All                                            Somewhat                                               Very Much

 

 

a. Maturity..............._______                                                   f. Selfishness................_______

b. Intelligence.........._______                                                   g. Courage...................._______

c. Energetic.............._______                                                  h. Hot-tempered..........._______

d. Arrogance............_______                                                  i. Eagerness.................._______

e. Shyness................_______                                                  j. Wisdom....................._______

 

D. Sport Orientation Questionnaire

Please answer the following questions to the best of your ability using the scale provided.

 

1                               2                                   3                                    4                                  5

Strongly Disagree                                Undecided                                                   Strongly Agree

 

Subscale 1:

 

_______1. I am a determined competitor.

_______2. I am a competitive person.

_______3. I try my hardest to win.

_______4. I look forward to competing.

_______5. I enjoy competing against others.

_______6. I thrive on competition.

 

1                               2                                   3                                    4                                  5

Strongly Disagree                                Undecided                                                   Strongly Agree

 

_______7.  My goal is to be the best athlete possible.

_______8.  I want to be successful in sports.

_______9.  The best test of my ability is competing against others.

_______10. I look forward to the opportunity to test my skills in competition.

_______11. I perform my best when competing against an opponent.

_______12. I want to be the best every time I compete.

 

Subscale 2:

 

1                               2                                   3                                    4                                  5

Strongly Disagree                                Undecided                                                   Strongly Agree

 

_______1.Winning is important.

_______2. Scoring more points than my opponent is very important to me.

_______3. I hate to lose.

_______4. The only time I am satisfied is when I win.

_______5. Losing upsets me.

_______6. I have the most fun when I win.

 

E. Keirsey Scale

The following sentences concern the types of things you are most likely to do.  For each, you are to choose the one that completes the sentence in the way that you agree with the most.  After making your selection, please circle either A or B.

 

  1. At a party do you
    1. interact with many, including strangers
    2. interact with a few, known to you

 

  1. At parties do you
    1. stay late, with increasing energy
    2. leave early, with decreasing energy

 

  1. In your social groups do you
    1. keep abreast of others’ happenings
    2. get behind on the news

 

  1. In phoning do you
    1. just start talking
    2. rehearse what you will say

 

  1. Around company do you
    1. start conversations
    2. wait to be approached

 

  1. Does new interaction with others
    1. stimulate and energize you
    2. tax your reserves

 

  1. Do you prefer
    1. many friends with brief contact
    2. a few friends with longer contact
  2. Do you
    1. speak easily at length with strangers
    2. find little to say to strangers

 

  1. When the phone rings do you
    1. hasten to get to it first
    2. hope someone else will answer

 

  1. Are you more inclined to be
    1. easy to approach
    2. somewhat reserved

F. Football Opinions

Please answer the following questions as to how they correspond to your own opinions. 

Use the provided scale and place your answers in the spaces adjacent to each question.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly                                                   Undecided                                                         Strongly

Disagree                                                                                                                              Agree

 

 

­_______1. Do you think football is for pansies?

_______2. Should someone play football unless they expect to get hurt?

_______3. Do people who play football tend to be more aggressive than other athletes?

_______4. Does it require much intelligence to play football?

 

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Strongly                                                   Undecided                                                         Strongly

Disagree                                                                                                                              Agree

 

_______5. Women should be allowed to play football with men at any level.

_______6. People who play football enjoy physically hurting others.

_______7. Football provides for an excellent social experience.

_______8. People who play football are more popular than those who do not.

 

 

Thank you, for taking the time to complete this survey!!!