Athletic and Academic Identities: Does Who You Think You Are Effect How You Perform?

Su Langdon, Bates College, USA

Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions

Poster Number: 51

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


“Dumb jock” may be the stereotype that dampens academic performance when athletes are reminded of their athletic identity. Specifically, Yopyk and Prentice (2005) found that when athletes were primed for athletic identity, they had lower scores on academic tasks compared to non-athletes. While previous research has focused solely on effects of priming athletic identity on academic performance, this study examined effects of priming either athletic or academic identity on both athletic and academic performance. Participants completed an online survey to measure baseline athletic and academic identity, using the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS) and the Measurement of Student Identity (MSI). In a laboratory setting, participants had either their athletic (n = 27) or academic (n = 26) identity primed and completed two academic and two athletic tasks. Measures and tasks were counterbalanced and no order effects were found. Results indicated that while identity was successfully manipulated by the prime, there were no effects of the prime on performance on either set of tasks. Results held even when analyzing effects on only the current athletes (n =43). There were no significant demographic differences and few significant correlations between measures. The lack of priming effects on performance was not consistent with previous research, which suggests that these student athletes were not threatened academically by their athletic status. As the college is Division III that emphasizes academics as well as athletics, there might be reduced stereotype threat for athletes in academic situations and students can move fluidly between their athletic and academic selves. Future research should explore whether these effects would be found in other settings, such as Division 1, in which balancing athletic and academic identities is more challenging. Understanding the mutually influential relationship between identity and performance is an important consideration for continued sport participation and lifelong self- perceptions and well-being.

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