Loughborough University
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Investigating the psychological functioning of athletes: the integration of attachment theory and self-determination theory

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posted on 2012-11-29, 12:09 authored by Luke Felton
This thesis is presented as a collection of four studies in which the associations between athlete attachment styles, perceptions of basic psychological needs, and experiences of well/ill-being are examined. The first study of this thesis examined the mediating role of basic psychological need satisfaction, within the coach and parent relational contexts, in the associations between athletes (N = 430) global attachment styles and their experiences of well-being. Results demonstrated that satisfaction of the athletes basic psychological needs did mediate the associations between attachment styles and well-being. Study 2 examined whether mean differences and changes in athletes (N = 110) attachment style predicted psychological need satisfaction, within two relational contexts (coach and parent), and well-being, and whether mean differences and changes in need satisfaction within the relational contexts predicted well-being. Findings from the study provide further support for the role of attachment in need satisfaction and well-being within sport psychology, as well as highlighting important within- and between-person effects. Study 3 aimed to examine the possible social mechanisms that affect insecure athletes (N = 215) perceptions of basic need satisfaction. The social factors investigated as possible mediators were social support, interpersonal conflict, autonomy supportive behaviours, and controlling behaviours, each examined within both the coach and parent relational contexts. The findings of Study 3 highlighted that social factors have an important role in explaining the associations between athletes insecure attachment styles and their perceptions of basic psychological need satisfaction within two important relationships. The final study presented in this thesis aimed to focus on how thwarting of athletes basic psychological needs impacted upon athletes experiences of both well- and ill-being. Study 4 also measured athletes (N = 241) attachment styles to the coach specifically. Findings revealed that when athletes perceptions of their basic psychological needs were actively thwarted, within both aforementioned contexts, athletes insecure attachment to the coach impacted upon experiences of well- and ill-being. Overall, the findings of the current research have supplied new knowledge and understanding concerning athletes psychological functioning through the employment of established theoretical frameworks.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Luke Felton

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en

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    Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences Theses


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