Masters Thesis

Athletes and Depression: The Role of Collective Self-esteem

Previous literature on depression has mainly focused on at-risk populations while more resilient populations, such as athletes, remain largely under-examined. Literature on athletes has consistently shown that this group had lower depression levels and better overall psychological well-being in comparison to non-athletes. The current study attempted to examine the underlying dynamics, particularly social support and social identity, inherent in participation in sport and the athlete experience that may contribute to the buffering effects against depression. It is possible athletes jointly experience social support and develop a sense of social identity through sport that increases their levels of collective self-esteem and personal self-esteem. Participants were 102 student-athletes and 107 non student-athletes enrolled in a California State University. Findings indicated that student-athletes reported lower levels of depression and higher levels of both collective self-esteem and personal self-esteem compared to their non student-athlete counterparts. In addition, collective self-esteem and personal self-esteem mediated the relationship between athlete status and depression. Both findings were consistent with research hypotheses.

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