Character Strengths and Virtues in Predicting Boxing Physical Education Class Performance of US Military Academy Cadets

Peter Jensen, United States Military Academy, USA

Theme: Aggression, violence, and moral behavior

Poster Number: 76

Program ID: POS-2

Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Sport participation and athletic competition are often promoted as avenues for developing good character in athletes (Van Dyke, 1980). Conversely, one might ask if/how an athlete’s “character” impacts performance in sport competition? The present study explored this question by examining the usefulness of twenty-four positive strengths of character included in the Values in Action, Inventory of Strengths (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), in predicting graded performance in a mandatory, first-year, men’s boxing physical education class at the US Military Academy, West Point. Prior research at West Point found specific character strengths to be predictive of cadet academic performance (Kelly, Mathews, & Peterson, 2009). In the present study, the VIA was administered to 1,004 male cadets at entry to the Academy. Subsequent cadet boxing physical education class grades as well as a pre-entry composite score indicating participation in high school athletic activities were collected from official records. Results show the character strengths of love of learning (negative), personal intelligence, prudence (negative), self-regulation, and modesty/humility, and originality (negative) to be predictive of cadet boxing performance. These findings are consistent with earlier sport psychology research on boxing and suggests a character strengths profile associated with early success in boxing and possibly other sports. In this presentation the results are discussed in greater detail and as well as the implications for character strength assessment as a mechanism for better understanding athletes.

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