Adaptive styles in elite collegiate athletes: The role of activation and self-regulation

Hans Steiner, Katherine Denny, Pascale Stemmle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


The present study examined the interaction of emotional activation and self-regulation in elite collegiate athletes. We hypothesized that athletes would report higher levels of self-restraint, repressive defensiveness and denial of distress, but lower levels of distress than non-athletes. Participants were composed of 461 collegiate athletes and 61 age- and gender-matched non-athletes from Stanford University. Social-emotional adjustment and personality were assessed with the Weinberger Adjustment Inventory. Results indicate significant differences between athletes and non-athletes. Athletes report lower levels of distress, higher levels of self-restraint, repressive defensiveness and denial of distress. Logistic regressions assessed the important predictors of athlete status. Age, denial of distress and responsibility proved to be the most significant indicators of athlete status. Data can be interpreted in at least two ways: (1) athletes are better at dealing with pressure and therefore report lower levels of distress; or (2) athletes report lower distress because they utilize high levels of repressive defensiveness and denial of distress. Utilizing non self-report methods would further clarify this question and would provide a deeper understanding of personality traits in athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Mental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Health Policy
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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