What makes an elite sport performer - an examination into the differences in personality variables as a function of skill level
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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This study attempts to provide a partial answer to the question 'What makes an elite performer in sport', by looking at it in terms of personality traits. It is argued that certain personality characteristics are evident in particularly high or low levels within elite performers that are not evident in a sports performer not deemed to be successful, and these 'traits' can be identified, and therefore, a profile can be drawn up describing the elite personality. 100 sports performers (n=50 Elite, n=50 Non-Elite) were administered the Big Five Inventory (BFI) (John et al, 1991), which measures the five broad personality domains Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Neuroticism and Openness. Their responses were collected and collated with descriptive statistics calculated and translated into tables. Through the use of multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA’s) and follow up univariate analyses of variance (ANOVA’s), results revealed overall significant BFI scores between the two skill level groups measured with the elite group displaying notably higher levels of the Conscientiousness and Agreeableness domains and particularly lower levels of Neuroticism than the non-elite group of subjects. The two remaining domains of Extraversion and Openness produced no significant differences between the two control groups. Findings are discussed with relevance to the literature on personality and successful athletic performance. Practical implications of the findings are presented along with recommendations for future research in this subject.
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