Can Individualists Find Satisfaction Participating in Interactive Team Sports?
McCutcheon, Lynn E., Ashe, Diane, Journal of Sport Behavior
Male athletes from three interactive team sports were given the GEQ, a satisfaction measure, and the Individualism/Collectivism Scale. Coaches rated their athletes on coachability. Results suggested that extreme individualists were no less coachable and no less satisfied with participation in a team sport than extreme collectivists. Two regression analyses found that a combination of GEQ and Individualism/Collectivism subscale scores was able to predict satisfaction.
An individualist is a person who devalues group efforts in achievement-related contexts, values privacy, devalues the importance of groups for personal well-being, and prefers a high degree of personal autonomy and self-sufficiency (Dion & Dion, 1991). A collectivist is the opposite. Dion and Dion (1991) developed a 15-item Individualism/Collectivism Scale in order to measure this dimension. Factor analysis has shown that the scale has four subscales which can be labeled as indicated above.
There are numerous anecdotes about individualists who participate in those team sports which require considerable interaction. Athletes like Dennis Rodman, Brian Bosworth, and Jim Bouton achieved fame partly because of their refusal to conform to team or league rules. Upon being told that he could make an extra two million dollars by being more of a collectivist, Charles Barkley reportedly said "What the h___ do I need another couple of million for? I'd rather be myself' (Barkley, 1994, p. 114).
Professional athletes like Barkley make so much money that they can afford to be individualists if they are so inclined. However, the vast majority of individualists are modestly talented amateurs who risk criticism, ostracism, and even removal from the team for expressing their individuality. Moreover, it seems reasonable to think that individualists would be less happy than collectivists about participation in sports that place a premium on conformity and require much interpersonal interaction. A cross-country runner who develops a unique training and racing strategy can often do so without being dependent on teammates, but the defender who decides to guard a zone when the rest of the team is playing man-to-man will draw the ire of players and coaches alike.
Intuitively there seems to be a negative relationship between cohesion and individualism. Cohesion requires a willingness to "fit in" with an interactive team, either socially, or to achieve athletic goals, or both. Individualists devalue group efforts and value self-sufficiency. There is some indirect evidence in support of this negative relationship. Singer (1969) found deference and affiliation to be slightly higher in interactive team sport athletes (baseball) than in coactive sport athletes (tennis), and Cratty (1973) reported that coactive sport athletes appeared to be less dependent on others and more self-sufficient than athletes from interactive team sports. Schurr, Ashley, and Joy (1977) found that male athletes who participated in interactive sports, including baseball, basketball, and football, were more dependent than athletes who participated in coactive team sports. High self-sufficiency, low affiliation, and low dependency are associated with being an individualist.
It is conceivable that coaches might find individualists difficult to coach. If an individualist desires a great deal of autonomy and a coach has very firm ideas about the behavioral roles of each athlete, it seems likely that the two will clash and that the coach will come to view individualism as a lack of coachability.
Cohesion has been described as four related constructs that describe the relationship of members to their group. They are Attraction to the Group - Task (ATG-T) and Social (ATG-S), and Group Integration - Task (GI-T) and Social (GI-S). Using these four constructs, Carron, Widmeyer, and Brawley (1985) developed the 18-item Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ) to assess perceived cohesion.
There is remarkably little in the sport research literature that links either cohesion or individualism with the satisfaction derived from participation in an interactive team sport. Martens (1970) asked university intramural participants for reasons why they participated. He found that teams high in the motive to affiliate were more satisfied than teams low in affiliation. Williams and Hacker (1982) found that cohesion in female field hockey teams successfully predicted satisfaction. Spink (1995) found that female team sport athletes who perceived their teams as cohesive were likely to indicate their desire to remain on the team. Since individualists value privacy (Factor 2 on the Individualism/Collectivism Scale) rather than affiliation this suggests that individualists would not be as satisfied as collectivists with participation in interactive team sports.
What about those few individualists who are attracted to interactive team sports? Are they likely to become dissatisfied? Since individualists devalue both the task-related team efforts (Factor 1) and their social importance for the well-being of individuals (Factor 3) it was hypothesized that they would score lower than collectivists on GI-T and ATG-S respectively. Furthermore, because of the seeming overlap between cohesion and collectivism, it was predicted that some combination of the four cohesion constructs and the four individualism/collectivism factors would successfully predict satisfaction in a multiple regression analysis.
One purpose of the study was to determine if individualists were significantly less coachable than collectivists, as rated by their coaches. Another purpose was to find out if individualists were significantly less satisfied than collectivists with their participation in an interactive team sport. A third purpose was to determine if multiple regression could be used to predict satisfaction with interactive team sport participation.
Subjects and Design
Male athletes from two high school football teams in South Carolina (n = 63), one high school basketball team from California, one community college basketball team from Florida (n = 22), and one community college baseball team from Florida (n = 34) formed the pool of potential participants. Athletes from these three major sports were combined to increase sample size and the generalizability of the results. There were no refusals but data from an additional seven athletes were discarded for failure to follow instructions.
The 27 athletes who scored at each extreme were chosen for further analysis. Th collectivist group consisted of 11 baseball, 4 basketball, and 12 football players. The individualist group contained 5 baseball, 6 basketball, and 16 football players. The extreme-group design has the advantage of comparing groups who are clearly either individualist or collectivist, but with it comes the disadvantage of loss of statistical power.
Graduate students solicited the cooperation of the three high school coaches and the junior author obtained cooperation from the two community college coaches. Before or after a midseason practice, athletes were given a cover page that asked for the athlete's name. Th general purpose of the study was explained, ahletes were told that coaches would not see any answers, and that they could decline to participate without any repercussions. Pages two and three were presented in either order to minimize the likelihood of a systematic order effect. On page contained the Individualism/Collectivism Scale (Dion & Dion, 1991). This five-choice Likert-type scale is scored such that high scores indicate the tendency to be a collectivist. The authors demonstrated good reliability, and scores correlated as predicted with measures of romantic love (Dion & Dion, 1991). The other page contained the GEQ (Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985), a nine-choice Likert scale scored so that high scores indicate the tendency to perceive a great deal of cohesion. The GEQ was reported to have high reliability and validity (Wann, 1997). At the bottom of the page containing the GEQ were the three questions about satisfaction used by Williams and Hacker (1982). This nine-choice Likert scale has "very satisfied" and "very dissatisfied" at the high and low poles respectively. Scores from the three items, which tap satisfaction with general play, playing one's position, and "coaches, teammates, and everything" are combined to yield an overall satisfaction score. Surveys were collected by a team captain and returned to the authors.
Simultaneously, head coaches were asked to list and rate each athlete on two nine-choice Likert scales. One scale was athletic ability, with "extremely talented" at the high end. The other was coachability, with "extremely coachable" at the high end. Coaches were told that they would not have access to any athlete's score, and they were given no specific information about the study's hypotheses.
Near the end of the season, approximately three to five weeks later, 62 of the athletes responded to the same survey again. We were unable to obtain season-end data from one basketball team and there was attrition from the other teams. Some of this was due to dropping the sport and some was due to missing the particular season-end practice at which the survey was readministered. Of the 27 subjects from the individualist group 14 had no retest data, as compared to 11 from the collectivist group.
Individualism/Collectivism scores for baseball (n = 16), football (n = 28), and basketball (n = 10) were compared for both test and retest (baseball n = 14, football n = 14, basketball n = 1). The only significant difference was between baseball (M 54.94, SD = 9.3) and football, M = 49.14, SD = 9.1, t(42) = 2.02, p [less than] .05, on the midseason test. Therefore, the three sport categories were collapsed into one for the remainder of the analyses.
The mean score for the 27 individualists was 42.89 (SD = 3.8) and the mean for the 27 collectivists was 59.96 (SD = 4.3). A t-test showed no significant difference at midseason between individualists (M = 18.22, SD = 5.9) and collectivists (M = 18.56, SD = 5.7) on satisfaction scores. A similar comparison at season end also showed no significant difference between individualists (M = 17.08, SD = 5.9) and collectivists (M = 18.81, SD = 5.4).
A series of t-tests was used to compare individualists with collectivists on the GEQ and its four subscales, both at midseason and at season end. As predicted, collectivists scored significantly higher on total scores than individualists on both occasions. They also scored significantly higher than individualists at midseason on ATG-S and at season end on GI-S and GI-T. See Table 1 for details.
Coaches' ratings of the athletic ability of individualists (M = 6.08, SD = 1.8) and collectivists (M = 5.98, SD 1.6) showed no significant difference. Thus any difference in coachability ratings could not be due to a difference in athletic ability. However, coachability ratings of individualists (M = 6.35, SD = 1.5) and collectivists (M = 7.11, SD = 1.5) fell short of significance at the .05 level, t(52) = l.86,p [less than] .07.
The correlation matrix resulting from the combination of four GEQ subscale scores and the four Individualism/Collectivism subscale scores yielded a mean correlation coefficient of + .26. The strongest relationship, between "values privacy" and "prefers high degree of autonomy" from the latter scale, was only + .54. These statistics suggested that multicollinearity would not be a problem in interpreting the results of a multiple regression analysis.
A stepwise forward multiple regression analysis was performed to find the combination of variables that would best predict midseason satisfaction. ATG-S entered at step 1, yielding an R of .42. "Prefers high degree of autonomy" (Factor 4) was entered at step 2, but it raised R to only .46 and resulted in only a very small drop (.07) in the standard error of estimate.
A second stepwise regression was performed with the same independent variables to predict season-end satisfaction. Once again ATG-S entered at step 1, yielding an R of .29. The "devalues group efforts" subscale (Factor 1) entered at step 2, raising R to .39 and reducing the standard error of estimate by .15. "Devalues importance of groups for personal well-being" (Factor 3) entered at step 3, increasing the value of R to .48 and decreasing the standard error of the estimate to 5.05. The fourth variable, "prefers high degree of autonomy," (Factor 4) raised the value of R by less than .02 so the regression was discontinued. Table 2 provides details of both regression analyses.
Generally speaking, the pattern of results obtained here suggests that it is possible for extreme individualists to find satisfaction by participating in an interactive team sport. Furthermore, coaches did not rate the coachability of individualists significantly lower than that of collectivists. Nevertheless, mean differences were in the predicted direction, suggesting that a group of individualists even more extreme than the present one might be less satisfied than collectivists with participation in an interactive team sport. Such a group might be difficult to find and may require the screening of several hundred athletes in order to obtain a sufficient sample size.
The present study showed a clear link between cohesion and individualism in a manner consistent with Taylor's comments (1995). Taylor argued that players who waived college eligibility to enter the NBA draft tended to show more individualism and less team cohesion than players who did not take such a shortcut. What is not so clear is why ATG-S scores differentiated individualists from collectivists at midseason but at seasons-end it was GI-S and GI-T that more clearly differentiated the two groups. Additional research is needed to clarify this puzzle.
The ATG-S factor, attraction to the group for social reasons, entered at step 1 in both regression analyses. The second best predictor in the midseason analysis was "prefers high degree of autonomy." Since this correlated negatively with satisfaction a preference for low autonomy was a predictor of satisfaction. At seasons-end it was attraction to the group for social reasons, combined with a valuing of group efforts in an achievement-related situation and devaluing the importance of the group for personal well being, that best predicted satisfaction. It should be noted that the coefficients of multiple determination "explained" only 21 and 23 percent of the variance respectively, making it obvious that other factors are involved in the amount of satisfaction that athletes derive from participating in an interactive team sport.
The results of the present study can only be generalized to male athletes, particularly young amateurs. It remains to be seen if professional male athletes or female athletes would respond similarly.
Address Correspondence To: Lynn McCutcheon, 240 Harbor Dr., Winter Garden, FL 34787. The authors wish to thank Horace Broadnax, Ken Cribb, Randy Lewis, and Howard Mabie for their help.
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A Comparison of Individualists and Collectivists on GEQ Mean and Standard Deviation Scores Individualists Collectivists Midseason ATG-S 31.81 (6.7) 36.78 (6.5) t = 2.78 [**] ATG-T 25.30 (6.8) 25.74 (7.6) t = .23 GI-S 22.89 (5.6) 25.89 (6.1) t = 1.89 GI-T 30.33 (6.1) 32.30 (6.6) t = 1.14 Total 110.33 (15.7) 120.70 (19.7) t = 2.14 [*] Season-end ATG-S 30.70 (6.2) 35.13 (6.3) t = 1.86 ATG-T 22.23 (7.8) 27.19 (7.0) t = 1.80 GI-S 22.08 (4.9) 25.81 (5.8) t = 3.33 [**] GI-T 28.08 (6.1) 34.00 (6.6) t = 2.49 [*] Total 103.15 (17.6) 125.13 (21.6) t = 2.95 [**] (*.)p[less than].05; (**.)p[less than].01 Stepwise Regressions Using GEQ and Individualism/Collectivisim Subscales as Predictors of Satisfaction Independent Variables R b [R.sup.2] F p Midseason Step 1 ATG-S .42 .34 .18 11.01 .01 Step 2 ATG-S .46 .40 .21 13.71 .001 I/C Factor 4 -.42 2.46 .12 Season-end Step 1 ATG-S .29 .23 .08 4.76 .05 Step 2 ATG-S .39 .27 .15 6.74 .01 I/C Factor 1 -.38 3.90 .05 Step 3 ATG-S .48 .23 .23 5.18 .05 I/C Factor 1 -.60 8.28 .01 I/C Factor 3 .87 5.40 .05…
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Publication information: Article title: Can Individualists Find Satisfaction Participating in Interactive Team Sports?. Contributors: McCutcheon, Lynn E. - Author, Ashe, Diane - Author. Journal title: Journal of Sport Behavior. Volume: 22. Issue: 4 Publication date: December 1999. Page number: 570. © 1999 University of South Alabama. COPYRIGHT 1999 Gale Group.
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