Masters Thesis

Attentional focus as a potential facilitator of dissociation in ultra-marathon runners

Ultra-marathons are endurance races that are 50 miles or more in length. Previous research has suggested that elite distance runners cognitively monitor the pain and discomfort for athletic events in an associative manner. In contrast, amateur runners dissociate to minimize the experience of pain and discomfort. The goal of this study is to examine the differences between ultra-marathon running and variables known to be associated with dissociative symptoms to explore a possible link between dissociative processes and attentional focus. Ultra-marathon runners (N = 78) were tested for levels of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), dissociative symptoms (DES-II), and deliberate self-harm (SHI) and compared to a student sample (N = 239) of California State University, Fresno’s Introduction to Psychology class. No significant differences were found between the ultra-marathon runners in SHI or ACEs scores, however the ultramarathon runners scored significantly lower on the DES-II when compared to the student sample.

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