Academic journal article Journal of Psychosocial Research

Enhancement of Optimism as a Result of Participation in Competitive Sport - Mallakhamb

Academic journal article Journal of Psychosocial Research

Enhancement of Optimism as a Result of Participation in Competitive Sport - Mallakhamb

Article excerpt


Vinay, a 12 year shy boy, with average motor skills was put into physical education class, by his mother so that he will start interacting more with peers, develop friendships, develop self confidence and learn more positive interactions with the environment. The coach observed that Vinay generally preferred not to try new skill, commenting that his abilities were poor. On failing to perform as per the required standards, he reacted with embarrassment and anger, blaming his peers and coach for pushing him to perform. For successful attempts, he thanked his luck or less competent opponent. Vinay showed most of the features of pessimistic explanatory style. Can the coach develop optimism and hope in Vinay? Will sport participation help Vinay in learning optimistic explanatory style?

Although professionals mostly use sport psychology to help elite athletes achieve peak performance, some are concerned more with children, to understand how development takes place through participation in sports (Weinberg and Gould, 2003). Sport is one of the few areas in children's lives in which they can participate intensively in an activity that has meaningful consequences for themselves, their peers and family, and the community alike (Coleman, 1974). Sport participation has important consequences on their self-esteem, social development and can have important lifelong effects on the personality and psychological development of children.


Mallakhamb, the most scientific ancient traditional Indian art, involves performance of intricate yogic & acrobatic movements on a 3.4 meters tall wooden pole by men and 5 meters long cotton rope suspended from a ceiling by women. This exercise in particular stimulates the mind and builds the body; and the mind remains calm and composed. The retentive abilities of the mind and the positive and constructive thinking power of an individual are much advanced. The acrobatic nature of the feats improves the sense of judgment and the hectic swings, jumps or somersaults promote toughness and fearlessness (Deshpande, 1986).

It is an experience of the student of Mallakhamb, that regular practice of Mallakhamb not only develops sound body but also a healthy and composed mind and strong will power.

Explanatory Style

When something happens to us, we ask why that event happened (Abramson et al., 1989; Abramson, et al., 1978). The answer to this 'why' question is our causal attribution for the event. The attributions made for events can influence behavior and emotions because they influence the meaning given to events and expectations for similar events in the future. People differ in terms of how they habitually explain events. This 'attributional style', later called as 'explanatory style' (Peterson and Seligman, 1984), is the manner in which people habitually explain oneself why events happen, and can range from optimistic to pessimistic explanatory style. People who usually explain bad events by causes that are stable in time (''it's going to last forever''), global in effect (''it's going to undercut everything that I do''), and internal (''it's me'') and who explain good events with unstable, specific, and external causes are said to have a pessimistic explanatory style. People with the opposite attributional pattern are said to have an optimistic explanatory style. A positive explanatory style stops helplessness, whereas a pessimistic explanatory style spreads helplessness. The three crucial dimensions to the explanatory style are Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization.

Very few studies have investigated the link between explanatory style and athletic performance. Martin-Krumm et al. (2003) investigated the role of success expectation, perceived chances of performing well on the task and state anxiety. It was expected that individuals with a pessimistic explanatory style will perform more poorly after a negative outcome than people with an optimistic explanatory style, because they attribute the failure to a stable cause and come to expect that negative events will be pervasive and enduring and that after failure, pessimistic style leads to lower expectations of success, to more state anxiety (somatic arousal) and to poorer achievement in the second test than an optimistic style. …

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