Honors College Thesis


Sports and Personality: The Effects of Childhood Sports Participation on Healthy Personality Development Público Deposited

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  • Sports, being one of the most popular forms of social play for children (Felfe et al., 2016), can contribute to a child’s development, as they are associated with “physical growth, biological maturation, behavioral development, psychological, and social well-being” (Bailey et al., 2015). The purpose of this study was to attempt to draw conclusions regarding participants’ current personality traits and their former experiences with sport play. The personality traits used for this study included extraversion and neuroticism, two of the Big Five Personality traits (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Extraversion is associated with increased social skills, participation in team sports, and numerous friendships, while neuroticism is associated with low self-esteem, pessimism, and irrational perfectionism (McCrae & Costa, 2008). Healthy personality is comprised of high extraversion and low neuroticism (Bleidorn et al., 2020). It was hypothesized that those who enjoyed playing sports as children would be more sociable (high extraversion) and even-tempered (low neuroticism) as adults, for both males and females. Similarly, it was hypothesized that males and females who preferred to play sports with others as children would also have increased extraversion and decreased neuroticism as adults. One hundred and ninety-nine university students (154 females, 44 males, 1 other) completed an online retrospective survey to assess the findings though only 144 met the inclusion criteria (114 females, 30 males). Regardless of gender, those who enjoyed sports as children demonstrated healthy personalities as adults. Results also indicated that, regardless of gender, those who enjoyed playing sports as children were significantly more extraverted and less neurotic than those who did not enjoy playing sports. Further research is necessary to explore the mechanisms underlying the relationship between playing sports and the development of specific healthy personality traits. The benefits of sports are substantial enough that they could be further implemented into a child’s life as a means to encourage and promote healthy development in a variety of areas.
  • Key Words: Sports, Personality, Gender
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