1Department of sport science, Faculty of Physical education and sport science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
2Department of sport science, Faculty of Physical education and sport science, Islamic University of Karaj, Alborz, Iran
Introduction: According to Self-determination Theory (SDT), an individual’s basic psychological needs can be influenced by other people's behaviors. Supportive-oriented behaviors in a sports context can affect athletes' well-being, leading to positive psychological outcomes.
Methods: The study evaluated the direct impact of need-supportive and interpersonal behaviors and need-thwarting interpersonal behaviors on self-handicapping and analyzed the indirect effects of self-esteem as mediators. Participants were 74 male college athletes and 141 female college athletes, respectively. Participants completed a demographical questionnaire, the Self-Handicapping Scale (SHS), the interpersonal behaviors Questionnaire (IBQ), and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
Results: In a preliminary analysis, it was found that athletes with low levels of self-esteem may have more engagement in self-handicapping strategies, and also, there is a significant relationship between high levels of self-esteem and avoidance of self-handicapping strategies. In addition, a high level of need-thwarting interpersonal behaviors is related to low levels of self-esteem. On the other hand, athletes who had perceived sport context as a need-thwarting environment show high engagement in self-handicapping strategies, and It leads to an increase in inadaptability, negative affectation, somatic symptoms, and substance abuse; it also lowers internal motivation, physical and psychological well-being, and satisfaction obtained from ability. Another finding of this research showed the moderator role of self-esteem on the relation between interpersonal behavior (autonomy-supportive, autonomy-thwarting (controlling), competence-supportive, competence-thwarting, relatedness-supportive, and relatedness-thwarting interpersonal behaviors) and self-handicapping. In other words, higher levels of need thwarting (autonomy-thwarting, competence-thwarting, relatedness-thwarting) were related to higher self-handicapping tendencies.
Conclusion: Parents and coaches should be aware of interpersonal behaviors on the level of self-handicapping and try to set the best strategies to affect athlete attribution in a sports context. Athletes with appropriate attribution about performance can use feedbacks properly.