Doctor of Philosophy
The overall purpose of this dissertation was to understand the impact that partner play has in doubles racquet sports (tennis, badminton and squash) on emotions, coping and emotional regulation. Study 1 laid the groundwork to understanding the impact (positive or negative) that the different types of partner play (playing well, playing normal, or playing poorly) has in these dyads. Participants (N=103) were randomized into one of three scenarios (written vignettes) designed to manipulate partners play and asked to fill out a questionnaire packet based on the scenario read. Findings of Study 1 showed that there was a difference in the impact on emotions and subjective performance based on whether a partner was playing well, playing poorly, or playing their usual game.
Study 2 was designed to further understand the impact of partner play through a qualitative approach, as well as how these athletes cope or regulate their emotions in these situations and how effective it is. Seventeen athletes, varying in gender, age, and sport (tennis, badminton, and squash) participated in semi-structured interviews. Athletes indicated that their partner did impact their own play and that they used various coping strategies similar to previous literature (emotion focused coping and problem focused coping). Moreover, to help regulate their own emotions, athletes discussed using both interpersonal and intrapersonal emotion regulation. Athletes use strategies that help their partner regulate their emotions in order to regulate their own emotions in difficult situations (interpersonal emotion regulation; IER).
Study 3 aimed to further understand if and how partners use IER when their partner is playing poorly, and how this use or lack thereof is related to social support and trust within these dyads. Using a cross-sectional survey design, participants (N=113) read the poor play vignette used in Study 1 and answered questionnaires measuring IER, social support and trust. These findings did differentiate the type of IER used by the athletes including both the efficacy and tendency of use. Ratings of partner trust were lower than might be expected, implying that trust can fluctuate based on partner play. In addition, despite the moderate use of IER by these racquet sport athletes, this did not predict their trust in their partner.
Overall, these studies are the first looking at the impact of partner play in racquet sport dyads and how it relates to different emotions, types of coping, and types of emotional regulation. Taken together, this research shows that athletes are impacted when their partner is playing poorly and use both interpersonal and intrapersonal emotion regulation strategies.
Summary for Lay Audience
The general purpose of this dissertation was to examine the impact that one partner’s play has on their teammate in doubles racquet sports (badminton, squash, and tennis). Further, this study aimed to understand how these athletes cope, especially if their partner is playing poorly, and if these athletes use interpersonal emotional regulation. Interpersonal emotion regulation is drawing on another person to regulate their emotions or to regulate your own emotions.
This dissertation was comprised of three studies. Study 1 examined how athletes react to different types of partner play (i.e., poor performance, a good performance, and usual performance). Athletes read one of possible three different scenarios depicting their partner’s play, and then were given a survey that asked about the overall impact of their partner’s play, especially with respect to emotions. Athletes believed that when their partner is playing poorly, this has the most significant impact, and revealed the most ‘negative’ emotions (e.g., anger and anxiety).
Study 2 gave athletes a voice by qualitatively exploring the impact of partner play and how individuals may cope. Most athletes indicated that partner play did impact them, especially when their partner was playing poorly. All athletes used similar methods of coping (e.g., over-compensation, positive talk, and strategizing). Athletes also discussed how they regulated their own emotions by attempting to regulate their partner’s emotions (interpersonal emotion regulation).
Study 3 aimed to further understand the use of interpersonal emotion regulation, and how this may relate to the trust and social support within these partnerships. Those high in interpersonal emotion regulation were found to use more informational support than any other type of support (emotional, esteem, or tangible). In addition, partner overall trust was rated low. Given the scenario, this indicates that trust may fluctuate during these different situations or scenarios (partner playing poorly). Although these results showed a weak link, the use of interpersonal emotion regulation seems like a worthy avenue for research to continue to explore.
Overall, this dissertation found that partner play does impact athletes in double racquet sports, and these athletes use both interpersonal and intrapersonal emotion regulation strategies.
Deck, Sarah J., "The Impact of Partners in Doubles Racquet Sports and Interpersonal Emotional Regulation" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7126.
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