Superstitious ritual in sport and the competitive anxiety response in elite and non-elite athletes

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Flanagan, Emma
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BA (Hons) in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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The current research addresses the prevalence of pre-competition superstitious rituals among elite (n-63) and non-elite (n-96) athletes. The nature of these rituals and their presence or lack thereof of on subsequent athletic behaviour was examined with a specific focus on the competitive anxiety response experienced by sportspersons. This research used a cross-sectional survey design with The Superstitious Ritual Questionnaire (Bleak & Frederick, 1998) and The Competitive State Inventory-2 (Cox, Martens & Russell, 2003), athletes from a variety of team and individual sports. Findings revealed that the use of superstitious rituals did not significantly reduce competitive anxiety levels or vary in frequency between genders. However, it was demonstrated that the standard and structure of the sport in question influenced the prevalence of superstitious ritual use. Overall, the aim of this study was to expand upon the current literature in the area of superstition in sport and make preliminary attempts to identify underlying functions of superstitious ritual use. Author keywords: superstition, superstitious ritual, competitive anxiety, superstition, superstitious ritual, competitive anxiety, sports psychology, superstition in sport