Masters Thesis

Do you believe in magic? Examining the relationship between personality traits and athletes’ superstitious ritualistic behaviors

Superstitious ritualistic behaviors provide athletes a level of control in a sports context where they lack it (Cohn, 2000). Superstitions are personal in nature; thus, the individual should also be considered as a potential component of superstitious behaviors. The purpose of the present study was to explore the underlying relationship that may exist between athletes’ personality type and their use of superstitious ritualistic behaviors. A convenience sample of NCAA Division I and II team and individual sport athletes (N=111) completed a 40-item survey. The total average score for superstitious use was M=10.32. Only 16% of the athletes said that their superstition(s) were highly effective. The average score for each personality trait was Intellect/Imagination M=9.44, Conscientiousness M=9.72, Agreeableness M=9.41, Extraversion M=11.16, and Neuroticism M=13.19. A Pearson’s correlation showed no statistically significant relationship between superstitious ritualistic behaviors and personality traits. A One-way ANOVA showed no statistically significant relationship between personality traits and their perceived effectiveness. Although there were no significant results, the study provided insight into athletes’ superstitious behaviors, their perceived effectiveness, and the athletes’ personality traits. The most cited superstitious behavior involved physical movements. Personality traits from both team sports (Agreeableness) and individual sports (Intellect/imagination) were in line with previous research (Ilyasi & Salehian, 2011; Nia & Besharat, 2010). It is anticipated that these results can help athletes, coaches, and MPCs better understand athletes’ pre-game rituals and superstitious ritualistic behaviors, which in turn, may help them to gain more control over these processes.