John Lubker, West Texas A&M, Amanda Visek, George Washington University, & Jack Watson, West Virginia University
To better understand the unique nature and context of service provision in sport and exercise settings, sport scientists have attempted to assess the perceived characteristics and qualities of competent and successful sport psychology practitioners (Anderson et al., 2004; Gould et al., 1991; Lubker et al., 2005 & 2008). These studies have helped determine the characteristics and qualities of practitioners that are perceived to increase the quality and effectiveness of sport psychology service provision. However, these studies have used traditional rank order techniques, which have resulted in overall positively skewed data making it difficult to discern the relative importance placed on the various characteristics and qualities in relation to one another (Johnson, 1974; Maholtra, 2004). Therefore, the purposes of this study were to use conjoint analysis to: (a) develop a series of sport psychology practitioner profiles that hierarchically place various attributes (gender, ethnicity, interpersonal skills, physical appearance, athletic background, professional status, and sport culture) in relation to one another, and (b) to determine which profile(s) athletes value the greatest. Participants were male (n = 60) and female (n = 33) college student-athletes (N = 98; 3 unidentified gender) from Division I and II institutions. Participants were asked to rate (11-point scale ranging from 0 (do not prefer) to 10 (strongly prefer)) their preference for consulting with 16 different sport psychology practitioner profiles displaying variations of the aforementioned attributes. Overall, the practitioner profile with male gender and matching ethnicity of the participant, high interpersonal skills, athletic background and physical build, and a high level of knowledge about sport culture was most preferred. The most influential and important factors were (1) professional status (20.3); (2) athletic background (15.3) and interpersonal skills (14.3). The largest positive impact of an attribute was high interpersonal skills and the largest negative impact was lack of proper credentialing.