Personality Traits and the Role of Gender in Swimmers at the Leisure Level

By Cavallera, Guido M.; Passerini, Andrea et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Personality Traits and the Role of Gender in Swimmers at the Leisure Level


Cavallera, Guido M., Passerini, Andrea, Pepe, Alessandro, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Personality factors are determinants of psychological well-being (Yeung & Hemsley, 1997), and sport contributes to individuals' well-being. Researchers have examined personality traits of people practicing sport at leisure and competitive levels. Rhodes and Smith (2006) found that extraversion (E), neuroticism (N), and conscientiousness (C) were correlated to physical activity, but not openness to experience (OE), agreeableness (A), or psychoticism (P). Male athletes tend to be more active, aggressive, competitive, dominating, and controlling, while female athletes are more goal oriented, organized, and rule governed (Pedersen, 1997). A positive attitude to exercise is negatively associated with N, and positively with E (Saklofske, Austin, Rohr, & Andrews, 2007). Higher E is positively related to exercising, while N and P are positively related to not exercising (Arai & Hisamichi, 1998). O, E, and emotional stability (ES), or OE and A explain the greatest variance in exercise dependence (Kern, 2010). Athletes with high levels of E, O, and A show greater use of emotion-focused coping strategies (Allen, Greenlees, & Jones, 2011). People with low C combined with high E and high N are greater risk takers, while people with high C and low E are lower risk-takers (Castanier, Le Scanff, & Woodman, 2010). Personality traits, except for N, score higher in athletes than in nonathletes, and athletes are more psychosocially developed than nonathletes (Tafti, Pakdaman, & Asgari, 2008). Individual athletes score higher on dominance (D), introversion (I), C, and emotionality than team athletes, while team athletes are more constant, concrete, and reliable, and score higher on A, E, and sociotropy (S) than practitioners of individual sports (Eagleton, McKelvie, & de Man, 2007; Nia & Besharat, 2010; Peterson, Weber, & Trousdale, 1967; Urvashi, 1998). Endurance sport and shooting sport athletes show lower N scores than the control group (Backmand, Kaprio, Kujala, & Sarna, 2001). Parmigiani et al. (2009) found that personality traits were important factors in athletic performance, influencing the probability of winning or losing. Losers showed higher levels of harm avoidance as well as lower levels of novelty seeking than winners. In addition, individual differences concerning morningness-eveningness personalities in sport have been investigated by Rossi, Zani, and Mecacci (1983) and Zani, Rossi, Boriello, and Mecacci (1984), who observed a decrease in morningness in sport from golf and shooting to volleyball and water polo. No significant differences were found in morningness-eveningness among low-performing athletes, while high-performance golfers showed higher morningness than water polo players (Rossi et al., 1983).

Although few studies have been published about personality traits in swimmers, the findings of the following researchers are relevant to the present study. When studying a sample of 176 female swimmers at the University of Illinois, Meredith and Harris (1969), using the Cattell 16PF, observed that swimmers were more assertive, enthusiastic, conscientious, apprehensive, self-sufficient, reserved, and socially precise than the control group of 264 women involved in other activities such as tennis and golf. Behrman (1967), using the Guilford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey with a sample of 102 swimmers at City College of New York, found that the greater the degree of swimming competence, the more ascendant and socially bold were the individuals, while the lower the degree of swimming ability, the more submissive were the individuals. The high score of friendliness in the lower ability group suggested that those individuals may have lacked the necessary aggressiveness. Newman (1968) examined a sample of 21 swimmers participating in a university swimming program at a college high school in Oklahoma using the Thurstone Temperament Schedule and observed a tendency for swimmers ranked higher in the 100-yard freestyle to score higher in D, and for swimmers ranked higher in the 100-yard breaststroke to score low in D, impulsiveness, and sociability. …

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