Athlete preferences in the title and gender of sport
psychology professionals: A preliminary investigation.
In: 2008 Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology Inaugural Conference , 11-12th December 2008, London.
Whilst the benefits of sport psychology are well documented it appears that there are barriers to the use of sport psychology services. It has been suggested that one barrier preventing athletes from seeking sport psychology support is the negative evaluations associated with the term ‘psychologist’. In light of this some have suggested the use of alternative titles to the traditional title of sport psychologist. The purpose of this study, which is the pilot study of an ongoing investigation, was to investigate athletes’ preferences towards a range of possible titles and to investigate whether athletes held any preferences with regard to the gender of the sport psychology professional.
The study employed a survey design method utilising a questionnaire designed specifically for the study. An opportunity sample of thirty-three university athletes, 17 male and 16 female, were surveyed.
It was found that ‘sport psychologist’ was the most preferred title largely due to its familiarity, perceived credibility and role clarity. The vast majority of participants held no preferences with regard to the gender of the sport psychology professional. The type of sport engaged in by the athlete and the gender of the athlete were not found to be influential in their preferences in the title and gender of a sport psychology professional.
The results indicate that sport psychology professionals should use the title ‘sport psychologist’ rather than alternative titles. The finding that gender does not appear to be influential represents developments in the perception of female sport psychology consultants.
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