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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effect of self-efficacy on coping behaviours, performance, and emotions in youth swimmers Hadd, Valerie


This study investigated how self-efficacy and coping influences performance and performance related emotions in high performance youth swimmers. Lazarus' (1991. 1999) Cognitive Relational-Motivational Theory holds that how people cope with stress is a process that can subsequently influence both performance and emotions. Problemfocused (i.e. efforts to change a situation), emotion-focused (i.e. emotional control), and avoidance (i.e. withdrawal) coping are three coping functions frequently investigated in sport (Crocker & Graham, 1995; Gaudreau & Blondin, 2002). Self-efficacy, the belief that one can generate the necessary actions to achieve a desired outcome (Bandura, 1997), is another significant predictor of performance (Bandura, 1997). Self-efficacy can be viewed as a potential factor influencing the appraisal of a stressful situation and can play a significant role in the selection of coping options. To date, there has only been one exploratory study looking at the influence of self-efficacy on coping behaviors in sport (Haney & Long, 1995). The purpose of the current study was to examine a model that linked self-efficacy beliefs to coping, performance, and emotions in youth swimmers recruited at provincial championships in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. One hundred seventy-seven participants (aged 14-18 years) volunteered to complete questionnaires prior to and following their race. The pre-race questionnaires included a stress thermometer and self-efficacy scale specific to swimming. The post-race instruments included the Coping Functions Questionnaire (Kowalski & Crocker, 2001) and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). It was expected that self-efficacy would be positively correlated to problemfocused coping and that a positive link would be found between problem-focused coping and performance. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that self-efficacy would positively correlate with performance and that a positive goal/time discrepancy would be associated to positive emotions. Results did not support the expected model. Correlational analysis found a positive relationship between self-efficacy and performance discrepancy (r = .24, p<.05) and between performance discrepancy and positive affect (r = .37, p<.05). Subsequent Regression analysis found that performance discrepancy (P= .321, p<.05) and emotion-focused coping (P= .243, p<.05) were significant predictor of positive affect (r = .22, p<.05). Nevertheless, the relationships between self-efficacy and problem-focused coping failed to reach significance. In addition, coping did not correlate with performance. No age or gender differences were found. One of the challenges of linking self-efficacy, coping, and swimming performance was the difficulty of creating the necessary psychological conditions to validate the different hypotheses. While selfefficacy is a good predictor of performance when goals are fixed, coping occurs only when individual goals are at stake. Future research should look at various ways to assess the relationship between coping and self-efficacy.

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